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Virtue for Hire: Some Reflections on Free Choice and the Profit Motive in the Delivery of Health Care

  • H. Tristram EngelhardtJr.
Part of the Philosophy and Medicine book series (PHME, volume 38)

Abstract

A reasonable gloss on de Mandeville is that, by pursuing their own interests, individuals in general, and physicians in particular, contribute to a general societal increase in health and wealth. Self-interest is such an important and powerful motive force that the profit motive requires a central place in any account of societal undertakings, including the development of health care systems. It is, after all, self-interest expressed in the profit motive that brings many to develop capital and produce goods and services of benefit to the commonwealth. On the one hand, this is a matter of principle: the only ways to acquire the services and capital of individuals, other than through coercive force, are to appeal to their altruism, to special interests (e.g., the pursuit of knowledge or the arts), or to their self-interest, of which the profit motive is a general statement. Given the salience and power of self-interest, the profit motive offers one of the major alternatives to the coercive acquisition of capital and services for health care. On the other hand, the profit motive has its “costs”. The profit motive by itself will not achieve all common social desiderata. This state of affairs invites detailed analyses of the moral and economic consequences of employing different social structures with different institutional goals for the delivery of health care. On the other hand, the profit motive has its “costs”. Theprofit motive by itself will not achieve all common social desiderata. This state of affairs invites detailed analyses of the moral and economic consequences of employing different social structures with different institutional goals for the delivery of health care. But such considerations lead one to ask what one means by these goals, or by happiness or by the good.

Keywords

Distributive Justice National Health Insurance Scheme Health Care Institution Moral Community Moral Life 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Tristram EngelhardtJr.
    • 1
  1. 1.Baylor College of MedicineHoustonUSA

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