This project is a contribution to moral philosophy and the didactics of medical ethics. It examines moral residue (MR), which designates the distress experience common among medical practitioners as well as other moral agents of recognizing what they take to be their own failure to meet a moral requirement, despite not being fully blameworthy for that failure; and which they express through regret or related feelings. Our overall aim is twofold: (1) to substantially advance the philosophical understanding of MR, as a concept and as an experience, by directing attention to situations of MR that have not been explored or are underexplored; and (2) to devise, and critically examine the potential merits of a novel method for medical ethics education that we initially believe can enable health care practitioners to learn how to acknowledge their inherent vulnerability to MR, and to accept that they are likely to fail morally in ways that they may not be able to avoid, without this acceptance compromising their sense of dignity as moral agents. The aims are intimately connected in that it is the philosophical research into MR which motivates and enables the didactic part of the project, and which thereby binds the project together into an integrated whole. The investigation is conducted in health care because this context makes apparent the full range of contingencies in life that impose limits to the rational exercise of moral agency, and which thereby lock agents into diversified situations of MR. However, since MR is pervasive also outside of health care, our project, if successful, will benefit other branches of applied ethics as well.
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