- Frank J. Leavitt, Ph.D.
The Jakobovits Centre of Jewish Medical Ethics,
Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, ISRAEL
Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 7 (1997), 54.
Physicians and nurses will always have to make decisions in the terrible darkness of insufficient evidence and conflicting logics, the anguished void of which existentialist playwrights and novelists were so aware. Ors deserves credit for pointing out the importance of this tradition for bioethics. Sartre's essay, "l'Existentialisme est un humanisme", is also relevant, teaching that we will always have moral problems which no authority or philosophical system can solve for us. We have to decide for ourselves. And incidentally the prophetic tradition which is my inspiration, Judaism, is much less a body of clear answers and directives than many people think. I believe in studying this - like other spiritual traditions - deeply. But it tells you what to do much less often than it leaves you to decide for yourself.
I also agree with Ors on the importance of nurses. Those of us who came into bioethics from philosophy are only a transitory phenomenon. We lack the clinical experience and we have insufficient background in medical biology. The best thing we philosophers can do for bioethics is to teach philosophical and spiritual thinking to as many experienced nurses as possible so that they will replace us and become the future teachers of bioethics, both in nursing and in medical schools. (See my "Educating Nurses for their future role in bioethics. Nursing Ethics 3 (1996), 39-52).