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Physicians and nurses caring for terminally ill patients are expected to center their moral concerns almost exclusively on the needs and welfare of the dying patient and the patients family. But what about the relationship of traditional medical ethics to the emerging new theories of environmental ethics, like deep ecology? As we glide into the twenty-first century, can anyone seriously doubt that the mounting global concerns of environmental ethics will eventually influence the ethics of medicine too?

For example, suppose physicians were to integrate the core values of an ecocentric environmental ethic like deep ecology into contemporary North American norms of healthcare for the dying. How would this shift affect the attitudes and treatment decisions of caregivers toward the terminally ill? Specifically, would the medical community’s adoption of the deep ecology ethic help or hurt the interests of the dying and their families? [excerpt]




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