Header

UZH-Logo

Maintenance Infos

The contribution of Kantian moral theory to contemporary medical ethics: a critical analysis


Heubel, Friedrich; Biller-Andorno, Nikola (2005). The contribution of Kantian moral theory to contemporary medical ethics: a critical analysis. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy, 8(1):5-18.

Abstract

Kantian deontology is one of three classic moral theories, among virtue ethics and consequentialism. Issues in medical ethics are frequently addressed within a Kantian paradigm, at least --although not exclusively--in European medical ethics. At the same time, critical voices have pointed to deficits of Kantian moral philosophy which must be examined and discussed. It is argued that taking concrete situations and complex relationships into account is of paramount importance in medical ethics. Encounters between medical or nursing staff and patients are rarely symmetrical relationships between autonomous and rational agents. Kantian ethics, the criticism reads, builds on the lofty ideal of such a relationship. In addition to the charge of an individualist and rationalist focus on autonomy, Kantian ethics has been accused of excluding those not actually in possession of these properties or of its rigorism. It is said to be focussed on laws and imperatives to an extent that it cannot appreciate the complex nuances of real conflicts. As a more detailed analysis will show, these charges are inadequate in at least some regards. This will be demonstrated by drawing on the Kantian notion of autonomy, the role of maxims and judgment and the conception of duties, as well as the role of emotions. Nevertheless the objections brought forward against Kantian moral theory can help determine, with greater precision, its strengths and shortcomings as an approach to current problems in medical ethics.

Abstract

Kantian deontology is one of three classic moral theories, among virtue ethics and consequentialism. Issues in medical ethics are frequently addressed within a Kantian paradigm, at least --although not exclusively--in European medical ethics. At the same time, critical voices have pointed to deficits of Kantian moral philosophy which must be examined and discussed. It is argued that taking concrete situations and complex relationships into account is of paramount importance in medical ethics. Encounters between medical or nursing staff and patients are rarely symmetrical relationships between autonomous and rational agents. Kantian ethics, the criticism reads, builds on the lofty ideal of such a relationship. In addition to the charge of an individualist and rationalist focus on autonomy, Kantian ethics has been accused of excluding those not actually in possession of these properties or of its rigorism. It is said to be focussed on laws and imperatives to an extent that it cannot appreciate the complex nuances of real conflicts. As a more detailed analysis will show, these charges are inadequate in at least some regards. This will be demonstrated by drawing on the Kantian notion of autonomy, the role of maxims and judgment and the conception of duties, as well as the role of emotions. Nevertheless the objections brought forward against Kantian moral theory can help determine, with greater precision, its strengths and shortcomings as an approach to current problems in medical ethics.

Statistics

Citations

Dimensions.ai Metrics

Altmetrics

Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Biomedical Ethics and History of Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Health (social science)
Social Sciences & Humanities > Education
Health Sciences > Health Policy
Language:English
Date:2005
Deposited On:27 Apr 2020 12:06
Last Modified:31 Jul 2020 03:51
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:1386-7423
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s11019-005-0104-7
PubMed ID:15906935

Download

Full text not available from this repository.
View at publisher

Get full-text in a library