Moral Principles and Medical Practice by Charles Coppens description:
is own free will, which, therefore, it is in his power to do or not to do. These are called human acts, because they proceed from a distinctively human power. A brute animal cannot perform such acts; it can only do under given circumstances what its impulses prompt it to do; or, when it experiences various impulses in different directions, it can only follow its strongest impulse; as when a dog, rushing up to attack a man, turns and runs away before his uplifted stick. When a bird sings, it cannot help singing; but a man may sing or not sing at his choice; his singing is a human act. When, however, under the impulse of violent pain, a person happens involuntarily to sigh or groan or even shriek, this indeed is the act of a man, but, inasmuch as it is physically uncontrollable, it is not a human act. So whatever a patient may do while under the influence of chloroform is not a human act, and he is not morally responsible for it. His conduct under the circumstances may denote a brave or a cowardly disp
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