Journal Mobile

LB McCullough
Journal Issue: 
Volume 36: Issue 1: 2006




John Gregory (1724–73) wrote the first modern, professional medical ethics  in  the  English  language,  appearing  as  Lectures  on  the  Duties  and Qualifications of a Physician in 1772. This paper examines Gregory’s medical ethics as  a  blend  of  modern  methods  of  medical  science  and  ethics  with  premodern ideas.  The  paper  begins  by  situating  Gregory’s  medical  ethics  in  the  context  of both  private  medical  practice  and  the  care  of  patients  at  the  Royal  Infirmary  of Edinburgh, focusing  on  the  crisis  of  intellectual  and  moral  trust  that  prompted Gregory to lecture and write on medical ethics. Drawing on the modern methods of  Francis  Bacon’s  philosophy  of  medicine, and  David  Hume’s  science  of  morals, Gregory bases his medical ethics on the complementary capacities of openness to conviction  and  sympathy.    His  moral  exemplars  of  the  virtues  of  candour, steadiness, and tenderness were women of learning and virtue, reflecting the pre-modern idea of chivalry in the life of service to the sick.