Medical ethics is one of the most popular subjects of discussion today. It is prominently featured in the medical literature, and several new journals are exclusively devoted to it. Numerous regional and national conferences concerned with various aspects of biomedical ethics occur with great regularity and high frequency. The press and media are also devoting major attention to this subject.
A whole new “medical ethics vocabulary” has arisen, some of which adds confusion where clarity is needed. Even the term medical ethics is difficult to define. One simplistic but concise approach is to say that the physician determines what is possible, the attorney decides what is permissible, and the ethicist suggests what is proper.
A classic example where confusion in terminology exists is the living will. Does anyone write a will when he/she is not alive? Is there a difference between a living will and a dying will? Even the English usage is incorrect. The will is not alive or dead. It is the person writing it who is living or dying.