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Economic Cost and Moral Value

  • George J. Agich
Part of the Philosophy and Medicine book series (PHME, volume 21)

Abstract

In this essay I consider three common objections to the introduction of economic considerations in medical practice. The objections can be stated straightforwardly. First, the ethics of the physician-patient relationship obligates physicians primarily to do what is right and good for particular patients; it precludes consideration of economic cost or social utility. As a result, the systematic inclusion of efficiency and cost containment in medicine is ethically prohibited, because it would require physicians to participate in the rationing of health care and to make clinical decisions on a basis other than what is right and good for particular patients. Second, belief in the sanctity of life or respect for life implies that denying or withdrawing care on the basis of cost debases the fundamental sanctity of life and violates the principle of respect for life which sees life as a moral object worthy of respect. Third, human life is priceless; it has a moral status which in principle precludes assigning it any exchange value. Hence, considerations of cost insofar as they assume that human life has exchange value must always be rejected on theoretical grounds.

Keywords

Human Life Economic Cost Moral Agent Economic Consideration Moral Worth 
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

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • George J. Agich
    • 1
  1. 1.School of MedicineSouthern Illinois UniversitySpringfieldUSA

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