Raanan Gillon is a hybrid of 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 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 (at least at the time of writing) 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 ‘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 for ethics as a whole- but acknowledges that there is much disagreement about the proper content of one of those principles, the principle of justice, and how it should influence the distribution of scarce resources in the National Health Service. Although he will reject ageism as an acceptable criterion for such distribution, he will also argue that the role of age in such distribution is more complex than the term ‘ageist’ implies.
Philosophical Medical Ethics (Wiley Medical, 1986)
"Just when Kant's formulation that 'the public exercise of reason should be free' had begun to seem so remote and exhausted, the Battle should reinforce one's faith in the enduring worth of dissent and of the free traffic in ideas"
Swapan Chakravorty, professor of english, Jadavpur University