Truth telling in medicine: The confucian view

Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 29 (2):179 – 193 (2004)
Abstract
Truth-telling to competent patients is widely affirmed as a cardinal moral and biomedical obligation in contemporary Western medical practice. In contrast, Chinese medical ethics remains committed to hiding the truth as well as to lying when necessary to achieve the family's view of the best interests of the patient. This essay intends to provide an account of the framing commitments that would both justify physician deception and have it function in a way authentically grounded in the familist moral concerns of Confucianism. It reflects on the moral conditions and possibilities for sustaining a Confucian understanding of truth-telling and consent in mainland China.
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