Ethics ‘by and for professions’

The origins and endurance of club regulation

in The making of British bioethics

Doctors and scientists successfully argued that they should be left to determine their own conduct during the nineteenth and much of the twentieth centuries, in a form of self-governance that Michael Moran terms 'club regulation'. They portrayed medical and scientific ethics as internal concerns in this period, produced 'by and for' colleagues and mainly concerned with limiting intra-professional conflicts. The emergence of club regulation in medicine and other professions resulted from social and economic changes during the nineteenth century. The reluctance to issue binding ethical guidelines was mirrored by the British Medical Association (BMA), which represented the interests of doctors after its formation in 1836. The BMA's belief that collaboration with theologians was 'necessary and desirable' might appear surprising, as club regulation was particularly strong in the late 1940s.

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