Institute of Education, London, UK, firstname.lastname@example.org.
An implicit rationale for ethics in medical schools is that there is a perceived need to teach students how not to think and how not to act, if they are to avoid a lawsuit or being struck off by the GMC. However, the imperative to keep within the law and professional guidance focuses attention on risks to patients that can land a doctor in trouble, rather than what it means to treat a patient humanely or well. In this paper I explore the gap between learning how not to think and act as a doctor, and learning to be reflective and responsive to patients as fellow human beings. This gap is exposed by the difference between a GMC web resource for doctors, and a detailed ethical discussion by Gawande in his book Complications. The latter raises fundamental questions of meaning, and exemplifies an approach to ethical thinking as the appropriate management of doubt that, according to the argument of this paper, is of utmost importance for doctors.