Professionalism, Organizationalism and Sur-moralism: Three ethical systems for physicians

Jonathan Bolton
Submitted: November, 2021

Over the last 50 years, the term professionalism has undergone a widespread expansion in its use and a semantic shift in its meaning. As a result, it is at risk of losing its descriptive and analytical value and becoming instead simply an empty evaluative label, a fate described by C. S. Lewis as ‘verbicide’ (Lewis 1967). This article attempts to rescue professionalism from this fate by down-sizing its extension and reassigning some of its work to two other ethical domains, introduced as the neologisms organizationalism and sur-moralism. Professionalism is defined as a morality based in system of obligations that are assumed by physicians over the course of their professional training and which primarily refer to two groups: patients and colleagues, including trainees. Organizationalism is also a moralit