Hippocrates is dead, long live Hippocrates. Rethinking the Hippocratic medical paradigm

  • Letizia Mingardo | letizia.mingardo@unipd.it Dipartimento di Diritto Privato e Critica del Diritto, Università di Padova, Padova, Italy.


For many bioethicists, Hippocrates is dead, in the sense that the Hippocratic medical tradition is a thing of the past and its ethical principles are no longer acceptable. Veatch, for instance, says: «I argue that the Hippocratic Oath is unacceptable to any thinking person. It should offend the patient and challenge any health care professional to look elsewhere for moral authority». Such anti-Hippocratism is probably because in its original form the oath prohibits both euthanasia and abortion, and because of the later influence of Christian Ethics. In my opinion, anti-Hippocratic authors engage in the “straw man” fallacy. In fact, such anti-Hippocratism creates the illusion of having completely refuted or defeated the value of the Hippocratic tradition through the replacement of it with an exceptionable reconstruction of Hippocratism, and the subsequent refutation of that false idea of Hippocratism, instead of the genuine one. After looking at the origins of Hippocratic medicine, by examining the first Aphorism of Hippocrates, which is considered to be the epistemological manifesto of Hippocratism, and the Hippocratic Oath, which is considered to be the ethical manifesto of Hippocratism, I will try to re-discover the genuine concept of Hippocratic medicine. Finally, I will defend the persistent value of Hippocratism, by considering its being a “classic”. In fact, the broader significance of the Hippocratic Ethics lies in their unyielding devotion to the preservation of individual human life and to the preservation of humanism in medicine.



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Original Articles
Hippocrates, anti-Hippocratism, medicine, medical professional ethics, classic
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How to Cite
Mingardo, L. (2019). Hippocrates is dead, long live Hippocrates. Rethinking the Hippocratic medical paradigm. Medicina E Morale, 68(3), 249-263. https://doi.org/10.4081/mem.2019.585