Building moral communities? First, do no harm.

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6 Scopus citations


As concern for the oral health of vulnerable populations grows, dentistry continues to seek effective ways to respond. In August 2005, Dr. Donald Patthoff and Dr. Frank Catalanotto convened a national workshop at the American Dental Association headquarters on the ethics of access to oral health care. A series of papers were produced for the workshop and subsequently revised for publication. This one responds to the paper by Dr. David Chambers on moral communities and the discursive imperative for building community and consensus around issues affecting equitable access to oral health care. I explore three interrelated issues that ought to be considered when endeavoring to build moral communities: 1) the problem of power relations-a fundamental constituent within discourse that can impede constructive efforts; 2) the discursive disconnect between theoretical ethics and social constructs affecting dentistry; and 3) the bioethical principle of nonmaleficence as a priority in the desire for building moral communities. In essence, this article responds also to the call from ethicists who see a significant need for substantive interdisciplinary contributions to inform how people at different social levels react in ethically problematic situations in its broad social context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1235-1240
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Dental Education
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2006


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