PP0113 - Week Two

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Week 2 :: What is morality? (22-28 Jul.)[edit | edit source]

This week will be an introduction to morality and how we think about it in the context of what is "right" and "wrong". You should try to consider the role of society, culture, religion, and gender on the development of your own moral worldview. Often in clinical practice we come across patients whose actions have been contrary to what we believe is "the right thing" and which offends our moral sensibilities. The conflict arises when our mandate to provide equal care to all is challenged when we don't believe our patients are deserving of equal care (or sometimes, any care at all e.g. murderers, drug dealers, women who have had an abortion).

In South Africa our behaviour as professionals is guided by the HPCSA Guidelines on Conduct and Ethics and the SASP Code of Conduct. We also have the Patients Rights Charter and the Bill of Rights in the Constitution. But, in addition to these policy guidelines (and legal framework in the case of the Constitution), we also need to acknowledge the powerful role that beliefs play in influencing our professional behaviour. This week is about exploring the relationship between the law, ethics, morality and professional guidelines.

Here is a presentation on morality that asks if there is some way that we can look at beliefs objectively (click here to download the video for offline viewing, or the audio for offline listening).


Questions to guide your thinking on the topic. Note that you don't have to try and answer these questions, they are simply meant to stimulate your thinking:

  1. How has your own sense of morality been informed? What continues to inform it?
  2. What is the relationship between belief and behaviour? How do our morals (what we believe is right) influence our behaviour (what we have to do)?
  3. What is the relationship between your morality and professional practice?
  4. Can you think of any situations where your ethical treatment of a patient would be challenged by your belief system?
  5. It's easy to highlight the unethical behaviour in others, but how do you perceive your own practice? Are you perfectly ethical? Is it possible to be perfectly ethical?

Remember, once you have written your own blog post, you should:

  1. Interact with others by reading and commenting on their work.Note that you can't possibly read everyone's work. Just aim to get a broad overview.
  2. Revisit your own work after reading what others have written. Have your points of view changed as a result of others' thinking?