Education in bioethics is seen as an answer to Socrates’ critical question: Can virtue be taught? It hopes to improve character and practice which is likely to help medical professionals understand where they should draw the line when it comes to exercising their power. William Carlos Williams’ story ‘The Use of Force’ can be used as a case study in bioethics since it effectively brings forth the issue and makes it possible to assess the enormity of the same. It compelling raises the issue of the power of medical professionals as it collides with the values of bioethics. As Rudin et al. (1998) state: “Williams Use of Force clearly demonstrates the ethical dilemma between respect for patient autonomy and the demands of paternalistic beneficence.” This is a highly thought-provoking piece of literature as we shall see in our discussion.
The Use of Force is Williams’ classic piece on the ethics of the medical profession where we see deeper conflicts involving patient rights, doctor’s discretion, paternalism and violence emerging in a compelling fashion. The story begins when the doctor is called by the people he describes as new patients. Upon his arrival, he discovers a sick child who is as obstinate as anyone can possibly be for she refuses to open her mouth for examination. As the doctor works to try to get the child to open her mouth, the story becomes a battle of man over a woman as the professional doctor gives way to the irritated man. At the mother’s attempts to coax her child to open her mouth for the doctor, the doctor grinds his teeth in disgust at her choice of words and becomes angered at the parents. At the child’s struggle to keep the doctor away, he becomes angered at her. “Don’t call me a nice man to her. I’m here to look at her throat on the chance that she might have diphtheria and possibly die of it. But that’s nothing to her.” As the child continues .to struggle to keep from being examined, she begins to scream and fight, causing the mother to worry about her overexerting herself and the father to berate the woman. . .