It Is Time to Cancel Medicine’s Social Contract Metaphor

Harris, J.M., Jr.
Submitted: September, 2017

The undesirable attributes of the social contract metaphor may be hindering efforts to understand and teach medical professionalism.Despite its theoretical weaknesses, the social contract metaphor has historical credibility because of its alleged association with the 1847 Code of Medical Ethics and the subsequent ascension of regular (allopathic) medicine in the early 20th century. However, the record does not support an argument that the intended purpose of the 1847 Code was to create a social contract or that one ever arose

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