Emeritus Professor Raanan Gillon
Emeritus Professor of Medical Ethics
School of Public Health
Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 3352
Dr Raanan E Gillon
Professor Raanan, Gillon MB BS; MRCP (UK); FRCP(Lond); BA (Philosophy); Hon RCM; Hon DSc(OXON)
Raanan Gillon describes himself as a hybrid GP and philosopher.
He is Emeritus Professor of Medical Ethics at Imperial College London, where he still does some teaching, mainly tutoring on the medical school’s medical ethics and law course and also on the Imperial College one week intensive CPD course in medical ethics which he has directed since he started it in 1983 and which is still going strong each September.
He is Chairman of the Institute of Medical Ethics and a member of the British Medical Association’s Medical Ethics Committee and also of its International Committee. He was editor of the Journal of Medical Ethics for 20 years until 2001, and he retired from part-time NHS general practice, which he always combined with his academic work in medical ethics, at the end of 2002.
He has published extensively on medical ethics and his elderly book ‘Philosophical Medical Ethics’ is in its 13th print while a second edition continues what he calls ‘its very prolonged gestation’. He was senior editor of and contributor to a massive and prize winning textbook, Principles of Health Care Ethics.
In 1999 he was a co-recipient of the American Hastings Center Henry Knowles Beecher award for contributions to ethics and the life sciences. He is an enthusiastic proponent of ‘the four principles approach’ to medical ethics - indeed to ethics as a whole- while acknowledging that the approach does not provide an agreed way of dealing with conflicts between the principles and does not solve disagreements about their proper scope (to whom or to what do they apply?).
Nonetheless he argues that these principles provide a basic moral framework of four universalisable prima facie moral commitments that all can accept; a common if basic moral language that all can use; and a way of steering between the Scylla of moral relativism and the Charybdis of moral imperialism. But he has always acknowledged that acceptance of this approach nonetheless leaves much work to be done in particular cases!