Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics

Special Section: Compassion: What Does It Really Mean?

A Dialogue on Compassion and Supererogation in Medicine

David C. Thomasmaa1 and Thomasine Kushner

a1 Fr. Michael I. English, S.J. Professor of Medical Ethics and Director of the Medical Humanities Program at Loyola University Chicago Medical Center.

According to Frankena, “the moral point of view is what Alison Wilde and Heather Badcock did not have.” Most of us, however, are not such extreme examples. We are capable of the moral point of view, but we fail to take the necessary time or make the required efforts. We resist pulling ourselves from other distractions to focus on the plight of others and what we might do to ameliorate their suffering. Perhaps compassion is rooted in understanding what it is that connects us with others rather than what separates us, and rests on developing sufficient awareness, to internalize what our actions, or lack of them, mean in the lives of others.