Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-544b6db54f-d2wc8 Total loading time: 0.224 Render date: 2021-10-25T05:29:17.199Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

4 - Compassion in health care ethics

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 September 2009

Robin Gill
Affiliation:
University of Kent, Canterbury
Get access

Summary

Compassion offers a double critique: of much secular health care ethics for not making compassion sufficiently explicit and of a number of Christian versions of health care ethics for failing to place compassion before even principled scruples. Compassion, properly understood, is an essential starting point for health care ethics even within a pluralistic society. Within the Synoptic healing stories compassion is not simply about feeling sorry for the vulnerable, nor is it even just about empathy, a preparedness to identify with the vulnerable. Rather, compassion is both a response to the vulnerable and a determination to help them, sometimes at the expense of principled scruples.

Oliver Davies' powerful book A Theology of Compassion makes a sustained case for regarding compassion as the primary Christian virtue. His concern is with theology as a whole rather than with the specific area of healing. Nevertheless what he writes can easily be applied to the latter. He argues that compassion rather than love best depicts the Christian life, since love ‘embraces concepts and phenomena that are both wholly distinct and easily confused’ (such as agape and eros):

Compassion, on the other hand, presents a complex but more easily identifiable structure, which in Martha Nussbaum's analysis entails a combination of cognitive, affective and volitional elements. In compassion we see another's distress (cognition), we feel moved by it (affectively) and we actively seek to remedy it (volition).

This combination of cognitive, affective and volitional elements is exactly what characterises mercy/compassion in the Synoptic healing stories.

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2006

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Send book to Kindle

To send this book to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

  • Compassion in health care ethics
  • Robin Gill, University of Kent, Canterbury
  • Book: Health Care and Christian Ethics
  • Online publication: 22 September 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511488344.006
Available formats
×

Send book to Dropbox

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

  • Compassion in health care ethics
  • Robin Gill, University of Kent, Canterbury
  • Book: Health Care and Christian Ethics
  • Online publication: 22 September 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511488344.006
Available formats
×

Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

  • Compassion in health care ethics
  • Robin Gill, University of Kent, Canterbury
  • Book: Health Care and Christian Ethics
  • Online publication: 22 September 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511488344.006
Available formats
×