Howard Gardner, author of the multiple intelligence theory, supports the idea that ethics is fundamental in order to do a “good work.” Someone with unethical behavior can have an intelligent mind and might achieve a high level of scientific or technical expertise, but he will not reach excellence at work.
Dr Behrents, in his May 2017 editorial, highlighted generosity as an ethical duty of a good orthodontist. Peter S. Vig proposed that the decisions in orthodontics must be based on the practical application of craniofacial biology within a cultural, historical, economic, political, social, and ethical framework. Thus, recommending a new expensive or risky treatment, without evidence of its efficacy and safety, is not an ethical behavior. Likewise, it is scientific fraud to intentionally propose research questions redundant or unnecessary and respond to them with the aim of achieving previously established results.
According to Gardner, the ethical mind is a characteristic of a good professional. The development of this mind occurs when people begin to reflect and act according to their responsibility as professionals, even if it means going against the establishment or their own interests.
When Aristotle claimed, “Plato is my friend, but the truth is a better friend,” he was not lacking in respect for his teacher; he was being ethical as a good philosopher. When Charles Tweed made extractions in his patients and exposed them to the orthodontic community, he was not disloyal to Edward H. Angle; he was being ethical as a good orthodontist.
In orthodontic education, barriers to achieving ethical minds in residents are the following.
Prioritizing teaching of techniques instead of science
Believing that the end justifies the means
Considering income level as the main parameter of professional success
Just as Robert E. Moyers believed that “Dentistry, like a river, rises no higher than its source—the dental school”—the future of orthodontics lies not only in the development of technology and science, but also in the development of an ethical mind in the orthodontist.
∗ The viewpoints expressed are solely those of the author(s) and do not reflect those of the editor(s), publisher(s), or Association.