Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 23 (2):165-177 (2020)

Authors
Lisa Tessman
State University of New York at Binghamton
Abstract
Nurses and other medical practitioners often experience moral distress: they feel an anguished sense of responsibility for what they take to be their own moral failures, even when those failures were unavoidable. However, in such cases other people do not tend to think it is right to hold them responsible. This is an interesting mismatch of reactions. It might seem that the mismatch should be remedied by assuring the practitioner that they are not responsible, but I argue that this denies something important that the phenomenon of moral distress tells us. In fact, both the practitioners’ tendencies to hold themselves responsible and other people’s reluctance to hold the practitioners responsible get something right. The practitioners may be right that they are responsible in the sense of having failed to meet a binding moral requirement, even when the requirement was impossible to meet. This makes moral distress a fitting response because it correctly represents their own action as a wrongdoing. However, others may meanwhile be right that the practitioners are not responsible in the sense of being culpable and blameworthy. To blame others, or oneself, for certain failures, including those that are unavoidable, would be unfair. My claim depends on distinguishing between the fittingness and the fairness of holding someone responsible for moral failure. Having drawn the distinction, I suggest that moral distress should be addressed in a way that both recognizes it as a fitting response and avoids the unfairness of blame.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
ISBN(s)
DOI 10.1007/s11019-020-09942-7
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 51,447
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Responsibility From the Margins.David Shoemaker - 2015 - Oxford University Press.
Constructivism About Reasons.Sharon Street - 2008 - Oxford Studies in Metaethics 3:207-45.

View all 45 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Moral Distress.Caroline Ong - 2015 - Chisholm Health Ethics Bulletin 20 (4):12.
Moral Distress in Uninsured Health Care.Anita Nivens & Janet Buelow - 2013 - Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 10 (1):123-125.
Moral Distress Reconsidered.Joan McCarthy & Rick Deady - 2008 - Nursing Ethics 15 (2):254-262.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2020-03-20

Total views
3 ( #1,246,783 of 2,330,353 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
3 ( #255,210 of 2,330,353 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes