The Elimination of Morality strikes at the root of the dominant conception of what medical ethics involves. It addresses the fundamental and timely question of the kind of contribution philosophers can make to the discussion of medico-moral issues and the work of health care professionals. It has two main objectives. The first is to establish the futility of bioethics. Anne Maclean challenges the conception of reason in ethics which is integral to the utilitarian tradition and which underlies the whole bioethical enterprise. She argues that the enterprise is philosophically misguided - philosophers do not possess moral expertise and have no special authority to pronounce upon moral issues. In particular, she shows that judgments about the morality of killing cannot be founded on a prior philosophical theory of 'the value of life'.The final chapter demolishes the 'medical model' of illness and health which give exaggerated powers to the doctor, and proposes a role for the philosopher in medical education which deprofessionalises life and death decisions. The second objective is to expose the inadequacy of a utilitarian account of moral reasoning and moral life.
The author rejects the utilitarian claim that reason demands the rejection of special obligations; nd argues that the utilitarian drive to reduce rational moral judgment to a single form is ultimately destructive of moral judgment as such. Pure utilitarianism eliminates the essential ingredients of moral thinking.