Selected writings of A. Jackson Howe.
Many Eclectic physicians are opposed to all restrictive laws and rules of order governing their actions within their own branch of the profession. This subject frequently came up for discussion among members of the earlier conventions, where the disposition seemed toward a trend of the "free for all" methods of conduct. This article by Professor Howe is a sensible answer to such as would be wholly unrestrained and ungoverned. The Golden Rule or any code of ethics based upon it can not be objectionable and must of necessity have an elevating influence upon the profession. Such a code is that of the National, and such was the ground taken by Professor Howe. Lest some have forgotten, let us quote Article III—Ethics—from the National Transactions: "The members of this Association shall exercise toward each other, toward all physicians. Eclectics especially, and toward all mankind, that courtesy and just dealing to which every one in his legitimate sphere is entitled, and any departure therefrom shall be deemed unprofessional, undignified, and unworthy an honorable practitioner of an honorable profession. It shall also be regarded as unbecoming to engage in any form of practice or of advertising which shall tend to lower the physician in the esteem of the community, or to reflect discredit upon his professional associates."—Ed. Gleaner.
ETHICS.—The "Golden Rule" is a formulated expression of conduct which accords with an educated conscience; and every expanded code of morals must be founded upon this. To do unto others as we would be done by is a comprehensive dogma in ethics. It covers all human actions. No man need err if he will consult his sense of right and wrong. But in the application of justice, in the complex affairs of life, it is not always easy to see ourselves as others see us. Selfishness imparts a bias to our understanding. We may intend to be just, yet labor under a misapprehension. An explanatory by-law is needed to aid in the adjustment of a disputed point, hence our somewhat extended or expanded code of ethics. If a professional brother do what he ought not to do— or would not like to have done to himself—he can be summoned before a council, and there, in a judicial manner, have the cause tried and passed upon by disinterested parties. Pure justice may not always be awarded, for the facts may not all be presented, yet there is a close approximation to that which is desirable. The freebooter may complain that ethics interfere with his liberties,. and claim the right to do as he pleases—he may declare that restraint is tyranny, and law a method of exercising oppression; but good citizens recognize the necessity for the coercion of libertines. That the greatest good may come unto all, we must, to an extent, compromise our interests, and give support to wholesome laws. And in order that rules may be passed and enforced, the respectable in a community must, by joining hands and hearts, form a legislative body, whose influence is coercive. Such is our "National," and the members thereof make it what it is from year to year. If there be any tyranny in the organization, its members have introduced it, and they can readily abrogate it. It is in no respect a one-man power.
Here it may be stated that our code of ethics has been potent to control those inclined to violate the spirit and meaning of our laws. Flagrant abuse has been attended with expulsion, and seemingly will repeat such action unless coming Conventions grow lax in ethical matters. Possibly they will retrograde, yet there are no indications of such a course. If any member has violated the published "code," he has an opportunity to apologize, and escape with a censure, but he has no chance to avoid the force of charges preferred against him. If he would stay in the Association he must abide by its decisions. A party who does not like the ethics of the "National" may advocate amendments; and as soon as he can secure a majority of voters he may modify rules. Ours are not "Old School" ethics, but those of our own framing. Although only binding upon members of our organization, they exert a beneficial influence upon all in sympathy with a high grade of professional standing.—HOWE, Eclectic Medical Journal, 1884.
The Biographies of King, Howe, and Scudder, 1912, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M. D.