Skip to main content

Limits—The Role of the Law in Bioethical Decision Making, by Roger B. Dworkin. Bloomington (IN): Indiana University Press, 1996. 205 pp. -

  • Ben A. Rich (a1)
    • Published online: 01 January 1998

Anyone with so much as a passing familiarity with bioethics knows how significantly and persistently (at least since mid-century) the law has insinuated itself into healthcare and the process of bioethical decisionmaking. Viewed from the insular perspective of traditional medical practice and medical ethics, it is not surprising that the “legalization” of the patient–physician relationship and clinical judgment has been characterized by some as pernicious. What is much more surprising, however, is when a book by a professor of law evinces the same jaundiced view of the role of law in this area. Nonetheless, the “limits” that Professor Dworkin considers to be inherent in the capacity of the law to resolve bioethical issues are significant, and hence in his opinion the role of the law should be severely circumscribed. This gloomy portrait of the “havoc” wreaked by law upon the landscape of medical practice, painted by a lawyer, stands in stark contrast to an earlier and much more sympathetic account offered by Columbia University historian and medical humanities professor David J. Rothman in his 1991 book Strangers at the Bedside, the informative subtitle of which is A History of How Law and Bioethics Transformed Medical Decision Making.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics
  • ISSN: 0963-1801
  • EISSN: 1469-2147
  • URL: /core/journals/cambridge-quarterly-of-healthcare-ethics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 3 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 51 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 16th January 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.