The non-identity problem arises when an intervention or behavior changes the identity of those affected. Delaying pregnancy is an example of such a behavior. The problem is whether and in what ways such changes in identity affect moral considerations. While a great deal has been written about the non-identity problem, relatively little has been written about the implications for physicians and how they should understand their duties. We argue that the non-identity problem can make a crucial moral difference in some (...) circumstances, and that it has some interesting implications for when it is or is not right for a physician to refuse to accede to a patient's request. If a physician is asked to provide an intervention (identity preserving) that makes a person worse off, then such harm provides a good reason for the physician to refuse to provide the intervention. However, in cases where different (identity-altering) interventions result in different people having a better or worse life, physicians should normally respect patient choice. (shrink)
It feels like there’s two of you inside—like there’s another half of you, which is my anorexia, and then there’s the real K [own name], the real me, the logic part of me, and it’s a constant battle between the two. The anorexia almost does become part of you, and so in order to get it out of you I think you do have to kind of hurt you in the process. I think it’s almost inevitable. We came to the (...) concept of authenticity belatedly, one might say. We had been talking to people who had a diagnosis of anorexia nervosa about their experiences of living with their condition, and though we had not raised issues of authenticity or identity ourselves, they often did. They struggled with questions of .. (shrink)
Authenticity has recently emerged as an important issue in discussions of mental disorder. We show, on the basis of personal accounts and empirical studies, that many people with psychological disorders are preoccupied with questions of authenticity. Most of the data considered in this paper are from studies of people with bipolar disorder and anorexia nervosa. We distinguish the various ways in which these people view the relationship between the disorder and their sense of their authentic self. We discuss the principal (...) modern ac-counts of authenticity within the analytic philosophical tradition. We argue that accounts based on autonomous, or wholehearted, endorsement of personal characteris-tics fail to provide an adequate analysis of authenticity in the context of mental disorder. Signiﬁcant elements of true self accounts of authenticity are required. The concept of authenticity is a basic one that can be of particular value, in the context of self-development, to people with mental disorder and to others experiencing substantial inner conﬂict. (shrink)
The concept of need is often proposed as providing an additional or alternative criterion to cost-effectiveness in making allocation decisions in health care. If it is to be of practical value it must be sufficiently precisely characterized to be useful to decision makers. This will require both an account of how degree of need for an intervention is to be determined and a prioritization rule that clarifies how degree of need and the cost of the intervention interact in determining the (...) relative priority of the intervention. Three common features of health care interventions must be accommodated in a comprehensive theory of need: the probabilistic nature of prognosis (with and without the intervention); the time course of effects; and the fact that the most effective treatments often combine more than one intervention. These common features are problematic for the concept of need. We outline various approaches to prioritization on the basis of need and argue that some approaches are more promising than others. (shrink)
To reduce the spread of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), Granich et al. 1 ( 2009 ) have proposed a new strategy for universal voluntary HIV testing immediately followed by antiretroviral therapy. Although this proposal is likely to benefit the partners of those affected and thus promote public health, it is by no means clear that it benefits the infected people themselves and indeed it may be harmful. Since the proposal involves an intervention that is not clinically indicated, it falls (...) foul of the normal ethical standards of clinical medicine, which is to act in the best interests of patients. Neither is it a measure that would be imposed under the protection of public health law on people who are seen as representing such danger to others that significant restrictions in liberty are appropriate. Thus, the proposal represents a third category of public health measure. We argue that a coherent ethical framework including a robust process is appropriate to proposals of this kind and that medical research offers a useful model since some research, like this proposal, is motivated not by the interests of the individual participants but by the common good. We outline some possible elements of such an ethical framework. (shrink)
Issues in medical ethics are rarely out of the media and it is an area of ethics that has particular interest for the general public as well as the medical practitioner. This short and accessible introduction provides an invaluable tool with which to think about the ethical values that lie at the heart of medicine. Tony Hope deals with thorny moral questions, such as euthanasia and the morality of killing, and also explores political questions such as: how should health care (...) resources be distributed fairly? (shrink)
Entscheidungen der Therapiebegrenzung und in der Betreuung am Lebensende sind häufig komplex und von ethischen Problemen begleitet. Im Mittelpunkt der Untersuchung steht die entscheidende Frage, wie hilfreich existierende „Ethik-Richtlinien“, die eine ethische Orientierung bei solchen Entscheidungen geben sollen, in der klinischen Praxis tatsächlich sind. Die Frage, welchen Nutzen „Ethik-Richtlinien“ bei der Entscheidungsfindung haben oder haben können, wird hier exemplarisch an einem klinischen Fallbeispiel aus einer Ethik-Kooperationsstudie in der Intensivmedizin analysiert. Vergleichend werden hierzu „Ethik-Richtlinien“ aus Deutschland, der Schweiz und aus Großbritannien (...) herangezogen, die Gegenstand eines internationalen Projekts zur Analyse von Richtlinien waren. Die Möglichkeiten und Grenzen einer ethischen Orientierung an „Ethik-Richtlinien“ bei Entscheidungsproblemen der Therapiebegrenzung und in der Betreuung am Lebensende werden anhand der Fallstudie diskutiert und illustriert. Abschließend werden Schlussfolgerungen für die Entwicklung ethischer Richtlinien für die klinische Praxis formuliert. (shrink)
This article argues that hope is of value in clinical ethics and that it can be important for clinicians to be sensitive to both the risks of false hope and the importance of retaining hope. However, this sensitivity requires an understanding of the complexity of hope and how it bears on different aspects of a well-functioning doctor-patient relationship. We discuss hopefulness and distinguish it from three different kinds of hope, or ‘hopes for’, and then relate these distinctions back to differing (...) accounts of autonomy. This analysis matters because it shows how an overly narrow view of the ethical obligations of a clinician to their patient, and autonomy, might lead to scenarios where patients regret the choices they make. (shrink)
The “doctrine of double effect” has a pleasing ring to it. It is regarded by some as the cornerstone of any sound approach to end-of-life issues and by others as religious mumbo jumbo. Discussions about “the doctrine” often generate more heat than light. They are often conducted at cross-purposes and laced with footnotes from Leviticus.
Intensive care units are not always able to admit all patients who would benefit from intensive care. Pressure on ICU beds is likely to be particularly high during times of epidemics such as might arise in the case of swine influenza. In making choices as to which patients to admit, the key US guidelines state that significant priority should be given to the interests of patients who are already in the ICU over the interests of patients who would benefit from (...) intensive care but who have not been admitted. We examine four reasons that in principle might justify such a prioritization rule and conclude that none is convincing. We argue that the current location of patients should not, in principle, affect their priority for intensive care. We show, however, that under some but not all circumstances, maximizing lives saved by intensive care might require continuing to treat in the ICU a patient already admitted rather than transferring that patient out of the unit in order to admit a sicker patient who would also benefit more from intensive care. We conclude that further modelling is required in order to clarify what practical policies would maximize lives saved by intensive care. (shrink)
This article briefly replies to commentaries by Ilina Singh and Peter Lucas on our original piece titled "Mental Disorder and the Concept of Authenticity". In response to Lucas, we argue that those who face questions of authenticity in the context of mental disorder cannot avoid the dilemma between the "self-discovery" and "self-creation" approaches. In response to Singh, we suggest some ways in which the concept of authenticity might be of relevance to clinicians.
This series of responses was commissioned to accompany the article by Singer et al, which can be found at http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6939/2/1. If you would like to comment on the article by Singer et al or any of the responses, please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.