Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 3 (3):226-241 (1978)
AbstractThe liberal approach to ethics quite naturally tends toward the classic individualistic theory of society, to reductionism or psychologism so-called, that is, to a reduction of all social action to individual action. For example, liberalism allows one to experiment with new medications on one's own body. By extension, liberalism allows one to experiment, it seems, on another person's body with new medication if one acts as the other person's agent, that is, if one has the other person's proper consent. We all know that new medicines are introduced into the market experimentally; indeed, government agencies, such as food and drug administrations, are supposed to supervise such experimentations and eliminate from the market as quickly as possible new (or old) medications that prove harmful. Hence, the very introduction of a new medicine into the market requires the consent of the public - in the form of proper permits to manufacture and market new (and old) drugs and other medications. Yet there is a flaw in this description. The act of permission is not made by individual citizens to doctors who act as their agents.
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