• clinical ethics;
  • decision making;
  • ethical analysis;
  • professional education;
  • ethical pluralism

We offer a systematic strategy that situates clinical ethical reasoning within the paradigm of clinical reasoning. The trajectory of this strategy parallels clinical reasoning: a plain statement of the initial problem, careful gathering of data, a differential diagnostic assessment, and articulation and confirmation of a justified plan. This approach pays special attention to the goals of medical care, because so much depends on whether or not physician and patient share the same goals. This approach also addresses the heterogeneity of clinical problems that at first appear ethical and acknowledges the ethical pluralism that pervades clinical ethics.