Week Four Hippocratic Oath by Brendan Ryan

It’s probably a good idea to use all of your skill sets to help people and to teach others skills that you have if they want to learn. The reason that becomes an oath if you happen to know medicine is because malpractice suits are common and it is against the law to kill people. The idea that one should use his or her skills for good and pass them on to others is just good manners. There is essentially nothing in the Hippocratic Oath that a person could violate without being a jerk. I think the Hippocratic Oath would be way more interesting if they made one for more morally ambiguous professions such as military offices.

In the epic of Spiderman Uncle Ben used to always say “With great power comes great responsibility.” and in every school everywhere everyone always learns that knowledge is power. Essentially doctors have so much knowledge and therefore power that without their moral restraints society at large would be at their mercy. Whatever skill set you learn, so long as it is sufficiently rare has the power to be used for good or evil. Being an engineer I can use my skill sets to become either a philanthropic solver of world problems or a mad scientist. At UCLA there are required engineering ethics courses set as a precautionary measure against mad scientists.

Mad scientist at work

Mad scientist at work

I’m sure most of you have heard harrowing tales of mad scientists and the trouble they cause, some examples are: Dr. Robotnik, the rival team in the movie Twister, Tom Cruise, Victor Frankenstein and others. As knowledge advances the more and more power these mad scientists have at their fingertips. Frankenstein made a monster that sought to kill him, which is maybe not so bad given the circumstances, the other team in Twister stole Bill Paxton’s design, which is pretty bad, and Dr. Robotnik wreaked havoc on all of Emerald Town, which is totally unforgiveable.

It would make sense for there to be a general oath that everyone might take which varies in intensity with education level. Doctors know a lot about people, and people at large, who are ignorant about this, are vulnerable to the power of doctors. The same can be said about any group with a body of knowledge, or skill set possessed almost exclusively by them. The Hippocratic Oath exists because people are afraid of medicine and the doctors that wield it because that much information and ability can be very dangerous. The danger is increased because it is possessed by just a few people who cannot be regulated by people who don’t know medicine. If a doctor wanted to kill you he could give you arsenic and a lot of people would not know not to take it. Its power like that, or the power to make a undead monsters, that needs to be restrained for the good of people as a whole. Educations is like the arms race; where different specializations or disciplines are like the different nations in the world with nuclear technology. Hippocratic Oaths are like disbarment treaties that seek to control the deadly power of knowledge.

2 Responses to “Week Four Hippocratic Oath by Brendan Ryan”

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