Clinical Decision-Making: The Case against the New Casuistry

Issues in Law and Medicine 32 (2):143-171 (2017)
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Albert Jonsen and Stephen Toulmin have argued that the best way to resolve complex “moral” issues in clinical settings is to focus on the details of specific cases. This approach to medical decision-making, labeled ‘casuistry’, has met with much criticism in recent years. In response to this criticism, Carson Strong has attempted to salvage much of Jonsen’s and Toulmin’s version of casuistry. He concludes that much of their analysis, including Jonsen’s further elaboration about the casuistic methodology, is on the mark. In this essay, the details of Jonsen’s and Toulmin’s version of casuistry and the major criticisms against their approach to clinical decision-making are explicated. Furthermore, it is argued that Strong’s salvage efforts fail to deflect these criticisms. The upshot of this analysis, which includes a few additional criticisms, is that Jonsen’s and Toulmin’s version of casuistry is not an appropriate framework from which to resolve complex “moral” issues in clinical settings.
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