Praxis as a Keystone for the Philosophy and Professional Ethics of Medicine: The Need for an Arch-Support: Commentary on Toulmin and Wartofsky

  • Edmund D. Pellegrino
Part of the Philosophy and Medicine book series (PHME, volume 50)


I applaud both Toulmin’s and Wartofsky’s moves to praxis, to engage intimately with the phenomena and the concrete practicalities of medicine. They have repudiated Foundationalism with a large “F”—the grand theory; however, I do think they are moving to another foundation (small “f”): Toulmin in philosophy and ethics, and Wartofsky in epistemology. Both illustrate what philosophy qua philosophy brings to medicine, namely, critical reflection, a perspective on ultimacy, and an attempt to grasp its general as well as its particular meanings. Toulmin and Wartofsky are perhaps too reticent about what they, as philosophers, have to contribute to praxis, and perhaps too generous about what praxis can do for philosophy. But they have called our attention to praxis as a keystone; they seem to neglect the arch necessary to support the keystone. Keystones need arches too.


Medical Ethic Cognitive Style Professional Ethic Clinical Ethic Moral Life 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edmund D. Pellegrino
    • 1
  1. 1.Georgetown University Medical CenterWashington, D.C.USA

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