Kant and Therapeutic Privilege
Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 2008 August; 33(4): 321-336
Given Kant's exceptionless moral prohibition on lying, one might suspect that he is committed to a similar prohibition on withholding diagnostic and prognostic information from patients. I confirm this suspicion by adapting arguments against therapeutic privilege from his arguments against lying. However, I show that all these arguments are importantly flawed and submit that they should be rejected. A more compelling Kantian take on informed consent and therapeutic privilege is achievable, I argue, by focusing on Kant's duty of beneficence, which requires us to aim at furthering others? ends. But I show that there are some cases in which furthering a patient's ends requires withholding material medical information from her. Although I concede that these cases are probably quite rare, I conclude that the best Kantian thinking agrees with that of therapeutic privilege's advocates.
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