Letters to the Editor
Medical Ethics
Psychiatric News
Volume 41 Number 22 page 27-27

In his letter in the September 1 issue, John Bezirganian, M.D., takes the position that "[p]eople who want doctors not to take part in the death penalty on `medical ethics' grounds are simply using a ploy to force their moral beliefs on the majority."

First, to merely "want" something does not force anything on anybody. Second, ethics and morality are intrinsically related to each other. Ethics can be defined as "a system or code of morals," while morality is defined as "principles of right and wrong in conduct; ethics." Who among us would advocate an ethical position that we believe to be immoral? Does this intrinsic relationship make advocacy of an ethical position into a "ploy"?

Either Dr. Bezirganian is doing exactly what he accuses others of doing (that is, advocating an ethical position that reflects his moral beliefs) or he is advocating an ethical position that he believes to be immoral! I suspect that the first alternative is correct, but in either case, he undermines his own argument.

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