Most philosophers think that there is an asymmetry between relying on moral testimony and relying on non-moral testimony: the first is almost always problematic while the second is not. The most common explanation of why there is a problem with relying on moral testimony is that being a good moral agent involves acting with moral understanding, and one cannot have such understanding through moral testimony. Crucially, proponents of this view think there is no analogous problem for reliance on non-moral testimony. (...) And so we arrive at the asymmetry. -/- We argue against this by showing that, (i) just as there are many cases where relying on moral testimony to navigate the world is problematic, there are many cases where relying on non-moral testimony to navigate the world is problematic and (ii) just as there are many cases where relying on non-moral testimony in navigating the world is unproblematic, there are many cases where relying on moral testimony to navigate the moral world is unproblematic. -/- What unites problematic instances of reliance on moral testimony, we argue, is not that they involve moral knowledge, but rather that they involve normal knowledge—knowledge that properly functioning agents are expected to have independently of testimony. (shrink)
In general, we think that when it comes to the good of another, we respect that person’s will by acting in accordance with what he wills because he wills it. I argue that this is not necessarily true. When it comes to the good of another person, it is possible to disrespect that person’s will while acting in accordance with what he wills because he wills it. Seeing how this is so, I argue, enables us to clarify the distinct roles (...) that the wills of competent and incompetent people should play in third-party deliberations about their welfare. (shrink)
When, if ever, can healthcare provider's lay claim to knowing what is best for their patients? In this paper, I offer a taxonomy of clinical disagreements. The taxonomy, I argue, reveals that healthcare providers often can lay claim to knowing what is best for their patients, but that oftentimes, they cannot do so *as* healthcare providers.
Is it permissible for a doctor or nurse to knowingly administer a placebo in a clinical setting? There is certainly something suspicious about it: placebos are typically said to be ‘sham’ treatments, with no ‘active’ properties and so giving a placebo is usually thought to involve tricking or deceiving the patient who expects a genuine treatment. Nonetheless, some physicians have recently suggested that placebo treatments are sometimes the best way to help their patients and can be administered in an honest (...) way. These physicians conclude that placebo treatments are a perfectly acceptable, and ethically unproblematic, mode of treatment.While I grant the common idea that placebos are deceptive is correct, I argue that widespread misunderstandings concerning why this is so has led proponents of placebo treatments to respond to the charge of deception in a way that misses the mark entirely. My goal in this paper, then, is to develop a precise conception of what makes something a placebo, which in turn will clarify the central charge concerning the ethics of placebo treatment, viz. that it is deceptive. (shrink)