Imperial College London

Emeritus ProfessorRaananGillon

Faculty of MedicineSchool of Public Health

Emeritus Professor of Medical Ethics



+44 (0)20 7594 3352raanan.gillon




Reynolds BuildingCharing Cross Campus





Professor Raanan, Gillon MB BS; MRCP (UK); FRCP(Lond); BA (Philosophy); Hon RCM; Hon DSc(OXON)

Raanan Gillon describes himself as a hybrid GP and philosopher.

He is Emeritus Professor of Medical Ethics at Imperial College London, where he still does some teaching, mainly tutoring on the medical school’s medical ethics and law course and also on the Imperial College one week intensive CPD course in medical ethics which he has directed since he started it in 1983 and which is still going strong each September.

He is Chairman of the Institute of Medical Ethics and a member of the British Medical Association’s Medical Ethics Committee and also of its International Committee. He was editor of the Journal of Medical Ethics for 20 years until 2001, and he retired from part-time NHS general practice, which he always combined with his academic work in medical ethics, at the end of 2002.

He has published extensively on medical ethics and his elderly book ‘Philosophical Medical Ethics’ is in its  13th print while a second edition continues what he calls ‘its very prolonged gestation’. He was senior editor of and contributor to a massive and prize winning textbook, Principles of Health Care Ethics.

In 1999 he was a co-recipient of the American Hastings Center Henry Knowles Beecher award for contributions to ethics and the life sciences. He is an enthusiastic proponent of ‘the four principles approach’ to medical ethics - indeed to ethics as a whole- while acknowledging that the approach does not provide an agreed way of dealing with conflicts between the principles and does not solve disagreements about their proper scope  (to whom or to what do they apply?).

Nonetheless he argues that these principles provide a basic moral framework of four universalisable prima facie moral commitments that all can accept; a common if basic moral language that all can use; and a way of steering between the Scylla of moral relativism and the Charybdis of moral imperialism. But he has always acknowledged that acceptance of this approach nonetheless  leaves much work to be done in particular cases!



Gillon R, 2020, Raising the profile of fairness and justice in medical practice and policy, Journal of Medical Ethics, Vol:46, ISSN:0306-6800, Pages:789-790

Gillon R, Boyd K, Brazier M, et al., 2019, Guest editorial: a tribute to the Very Reverend Edward Shotter (FCMME), Journal of Medical Ethics, Vol:45, ISSN:0306-6800, Pages:629-630

Gillon R, 2016, Why I wrote my advance decision to refuse life-prolonging treatment: and why the law on sanctity of life remains problematic, Journal of Medical Ethics, Vol:42, ISSN:0306-6800, Pages:376-382

Gillon R, 2015, Defending the four principles approach as a good basis for good medical practice and therefore for good medical ethics, Journal of Medical Ethics, Vol:41, ISSN:0306-6800, Pages:111-116

Gillon R, Higgs R, 2015, What is it to do good medical ethics? A kaleidoscope of views, Journal of Medical Ethics, Vol:41, ISSN:0306-6800, Pages:1-4

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