Medicine and Morals in the Enlightenment

John Gregory, Thomas Percival and Benjamin Rush


Modern medical ethics in the English-speaking world is commonly thought to derive from the medical philosophy of the Scotsman John Gregory (1725-1773) and his younger associates, the English Dissenter Thomas Percival (1740-1804) and the American Benjamin Rush (1745-1813). This book is the first extensive study of this suggestion. Dr Haakonssen shows how the three thinkers combined Francis Bacon's and the Scottish Enlightenment's ideas of the science of morals and the morals of science. She demonstrates how their medical ethics was a successful adaptation of traditional moral ideas to the dramatically changing medical world especially the voluntary hospital. In accounting for the dynamics of this process, she rejects the anachronism that modern medical ethics was a new paradigm.

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Dr Lisbeth Haakonssen was educated in philosophy and intellectual history at the University of New Brunswick and the Australian National University. She has taught philosophy and medical ethics in Australia, Canada, and the United States and is currently in the Liberal Arts Core Curriculum at Boston University.
”…the book undoubtedly makes an important contribution to the history of medical ethics.” in: Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy, 5: 211-212, 2002.

"...her biographies ... set these physician-philosophers' lives and work in the context of the major medical and philosophical issues of their time. There is really nothing comparable in print, and her book should be on the "must buy"list for libraries in liberal arts colleges and universities, as well as in medical and professional schools..." Robert Baker in American Philosophical Association Newsletter on Philosophy and Medicine).

1. Interpreting Eighteenth-Century Medical Ethics
Etiquette and Monopoly
Sympathy and Contract
A New Interpretation

2. John Gregory: Medical Ethics and Common Sense
Personality and Profession
The Art and Science of Medicine
Duties of a Polite Profession

3. Thomas Percival: The Duty of Public Office
Character and Context
Medical Ethics and Medical Practice

4. Benjamin Rush: Medical Ethics for a New Republic
Character and Connections
Medical Science
Medicalized Ethics