A new philosophy of chiropractic medicine

Establishing a new philosophy of chiropractic medicine — Principle 1: The moral order

In establishing a new philosophy of chiropractic medicine (PCM), there are principles that need to be expounded upon. Principles serve as the fundamental truths or proposition that help establish a foundation for the reasoning behind the entirety of the philosophy. There is ongoing debate about the concept of individual personal responsibility, as well as concern about the loss of ethics and morality in society.

To establish a new philosophy of chiropractic medicine, principles that form a framework need to be brought forth. The political theorist Russell Kirk (1918-94) established 10 principles to be a “body of sentiments, rather than a system of ideological dogmata.” In the quest to establish a PCM, this may be the one of the more important principles to address as it serves as the anchoring principle.

This encourages the answering of the age-old question, “What is good and what is evil?” and presenting and explaining the first principle known as the Principle of the Moral Order.

Moral order defined

There exists a strong sense of right and wrong, truth and falsehood. These are guided by personal convictions about justice and honor.

There is the belief in a foundational moral order (right and wrong, justice and honor) guided by personal convictions that a good society will evolve and continue. The Principle of the Moral Order is defined as the concept that human nature is a constant, and moral truths are permanent. Some may argue that human nature can be altered. This premise is false in that human behavior can be modified, yet a person has to decide to modify their behavior.

The human nature of a person cannot be modified nor altered by an outside entity, as one has to make a decision to abide by the rule. Autocratic/totalitarian regimes are repressive because they attempt to not only conform humans to a strict behavioral code but attempt to alter human nature.

To understand human nature and how it cannot be altered, a review of the underlying aspects of human nature are in order. The term “nature” and our understanding of “human nature” is widely debated. The classical understanding of “nature” was of things that have an internal principle of motion.

For instance, a rock cannot move itself — another object must move it, whether a larger object through gravity or through a person picking it up and throwing it. Things that have a “nature” are things that have a cause of movement inside themselves: Plants grow on their own, animals move and seek food, and humans do similar things.

While human nature includes animal nature, there is an additional, most-important power humans have: reason. Humans have the ability to reason, the power to know. An animal moves to do things, but you cannot ask it why it is doing it. Humans move by first knowing, and then making a decision to move toward something they perceive to be good, or away from something perceived bad.

Humans have skills of being playful — we enjoy physical activities such as games/sports, but we also make jokes and are creative with our imaginations. Humans are naturally scientific. We find ourselves putting things in order, making categories, predicting how things work and testing to see if we were correct. We use the power of our imaginations to improvise.

Humans also like to be legislative. We enjoy kinship, our rights, the goods we consume, status, the obligation to our families and desire to pass down this wealth to our offspring. In being legislative, we seek safety. Every culture establishes rules that govern safety. With being legislative is our use of objects, i.e. private property. Combining the concept of safety with our penchant for objects/property comes the desire of having the freedom to protect our property, as no one wants to have their property confiscated without reason.

Humans are epicurean (devotion to pleasure, comfort and high living). Humans enjoy food, are festive with food and enjoy many art forms. Humans are sexual beings and seek sex clandestinely. And due to sex, there exists envy and competition. Humans like to communicate and use gossip as a means of communication. Humans use speech to communicate ideas of likes, dislikes, wants, needs and desires. And with the ability to reason, humans are fallible and make mistakes.

While the above are in no particular order, the last one, “communication,” is the most important. In order to use skills, science and our imaginations, we need the power of speech to communicate these wants, needs, desires, likes and dislikes. Marxist governments are overly repressive in their attempt to alter human nature, which makes no allowance for legitimate disagreement through criticism, i.e. the ability to speak freely, to make jokes or make mistakes.

The ideology of Marxism attempts to put all people at the same level and pushes conformity to the will of the ideology. These same autocratic governments attempted unsuccessfully to control people through the confiscation of their property, having scarcity of consumer goods, making people like things they did not like, or controlling their ability to speak freely. In other words, you will enjoy your scarcity of products to consume and enjoy the ability to not be able to say anything about it.

A new philosophy of chiropractic medicine and harmony

The moral order acknowledges harmony, i.e. a harmony by consistency of thought. This harmony does not preclude that all things one confronts will be in congruency and cannot be meant to signify “harmony of nature,” since it would behoove anyone believing there is harmony or order in the universe.

This principle negates the chiropractic principle of “order in the universe,” as the universe is in a constant state of chaos. Observing a supernova from a distance has the appearance of beauty with all its colors. However, a supernova is not a static entity and due to all the cosmic radiation from the gamma rays, one would be hard pressed to want to be near it.


There currently exists a public image that is unfavorable toward the chiropractic profession as it pertains to ethics and honesty.

The Principle of Moral Order is entwined in ethics. With ethics, it is interpreted that this principle serves as an anchoring principle for a PCM. Many professions pronounce what a profession’s ethics are, yet seemingly fail to elucidate what makes for unethical behavior. It is further recognized that there must be a strong and robust effort to place condemnation of unethical practices that fall below acceptable standards that can impact patient safety and the safety of the profession.

We must continually ask the question and provide a reasoned response to, “What does it mean to be a good practitioner of chiropractic medicine?”

Inner and outer order

There are two aspects to the moral order — the inner order and the outer order. The inner order of the soul is distinctively the ethics a practitioner must hold dear. The principle of moral order of the inner soul does not proffer that one follows a religious sect or particular theological denomination of thought. Thus, there is freedom to pursue the religion, theology and spirituality one chooses to follow, as well as the acknowledgement of a higher power or God.

For example, a person can claim to follow the scientific method yet still hold the view that God exists. The principle of the moral order advocates that there exists objective truth in the universe and it can be known. To understand the universe, it takes the scientific method, but that does not mean a person has to disavow the existence of God in an effort to understand the human body, environment and our interaction with it.

The principle of the moral order is the outer order of the commonwealth (a state where the supreme power is vested of the people, for the people and by the people). The outer order of the commonwealth is uniquely suited for chiropractic medicine.

A PCM should hold a concern not only for how one acts/behaves with personal and professional responsibility, but with the concern for the future health of the profession. The outer order is not simply for the future of the profession solely. There exists a pride and appreciation for one’s own country, the direction it is taking, belief in their nation’s exceptionality, admiring its constitutional form of government, and sovereignty along with the freedoms, accomplishments, language and preservation of its unique culture, heritage and history. A PCM should be concerned with its own profession. Yet in order to have a profession, a PCM must appreciate and acknowledge constitutional freedoms in order to practice their trade.

A principle for chiropractic medicine

The basic definition of this principle that is applicable for a PCM can be stated as follows: Moral truths are consistent and guided by sound ethics for patient care and professional behavior. These moral truths are supported for people to live in a peaceful society.

TIMOTHY MIRTZ, DC, PhD, is an associate professor and chair of the Department of Secondary and Physical Education at Bethune-Cookman University.

JOHN MARTIN, DC, is a graduate of Bridgeport University and is director of worksite wellness of Pennsylvania.


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