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Ethics in Biology, Engineering and Medicine: An International Journal
SJR: 0.123

ISSN 印刷: 2151-805X
ISSN オンライン: 2151-8068

Ethics in Biology, Engineering and Medicine: An International Journal

DOI: 10.1615/EthicsBiologyEngMed.2019031019
pages 21-34

Lies, Deception, and Therapeutic Privilege in Clinical Ethics: A Critique of the Kantian Perspective

D. John Doyle
Department of General Anesthesiology, Cleveland Clinic, 4500 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio, 44195, USA

要約

Kantian ethics, a form of deontological ethics founded on the concept of the categorical imperative, is a cornerstone of modern ethical discourse. In Kantian ethics, a moral agent is morally required to act in accordance with the categorical imperative, a moral principle that focuses on duty and responsibility as opposed to the consequences of a particular moral choice. For example, Kantian ethics explains why we should not lie, steal, kill, or rape, drawing on the notion of a maxim that can be made universal in applicability.
Although classical Kantian ethics is frequently used as the basis for ethical decision making in the clinical world, some critics argue that it may sometimes prove unsatisfactory, as in instances in which deception is necessary to ensure patient safety. For example, classical Kantian ethics, critics argue, would forbid us from ever lying or stealing to benefit a patient, regardless of any resulting positive consequences. By contrast, a consequentialist approach (e.g., utilitarianism) or a virtue ethics approach, these critics argue, would sometimes offer us a different ethical recommendation, at least in some special circumstances. In this article, I explore some of the alleged limitations of classical Kantian ethics in the matter of patient deception carried out for the purposes of patient beneficence. Some specific scenarios are offered for discussion. I conclude that the strict Kantian approach to matters of clinical ethics is potentially problematic in a number of important instances.

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