Medical ethics education plays a critical role in forming the attitudes and values of prospective physicians who will directly engage in various, complex clinical situations in the future. In this sense, today's medical ethics education should have the goals of exactly identifying many different ethical problems faced in clinical situations and, to better cope with such problems, raising the skills of moral thinking and criticizing for making most rational decisions. One way to achieve such goals lies in Habermas' Rational Communication Action Theory that can be quite meaningful as a new methodology of medical ethics education.
The theory considers language as the primary element of communication and stresses 'context' in which the element is used. In such context, parties of communication, the speaker and the listener, communicate with each other under a relationship of mutual respect and reciprocality. Both of them could promote a mutual understanding-oriented communication action through conversations and discussions and, as a result, reach a most ideal, universal consensus.
Actually, Rational Communication Action may be embodied into a method of communicative discussion that is practiced during medical ethics education. Such discussion in which students participate should be based on mutual recognition. With the validity claims based, the context and legitimacy of discussions under communication are determined, ultimately drawing out a universal consensus. In the process of communicative discussion, students can learn skills of communication with others as well as those of moral thinking and critical judgment against given problems. In summary, Habermas' Rational Communication Action Theory allows students to raise their skills of critical thinking through such action and furthermore become aware and reflectively think of their problems by themselves.