On the ethics of algorithmic decision-making in healthcare

Journal of Medical Ethics 46 (3):205-211 (2020)

Abstract

In recent years, a plethora of high-profile scientific publications has been reporting about machine learning algorithms outperforming clinicians in medical diagnosis or treatment recommendations. This has spiked interest in deploying relevant algorithms with the aim of enhancing decision-making in healthcare. In this paper, we argue that instead of straightforwardly enhancing the decision-making capabilities of clinicians and healthcare institutions, deploying machines learning algorithms entails trade-offs at the epistemic and the normative level. Whereas involving machine learning might improve the accuracy of medical diagnosis, it comes at the expense of opacity when trying to assess the reliability of given diagnosis. Drawing on literature in social epistemology and moral responsibility, we argue that the uncertainty in question potentially undermines the epistemic authority of clinicians. Furthermore, we elucidate potential pitfalls of involving machine learning in healthcare with respect to paternalism, moral responsibility and fairness. At last, we discuss how the deployment of machine learning algorithms might shift the evidentiary norms of medical diagnosis. In this regard, we hope to lay the grounds for further ethical reflection of the opportunities and pitfalls of machine learning for enhancing decision-making in healthcare.

Download options

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 72,743

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Analytics

Added to PP
2019-11-21

Downloads
90 (#132,825)

6 months
15 (#54,553)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

References found in this work

Epistemology of Disagreement: The Good News.David Christensen - 2007 - Philosophical Review 116 (2):187-217.
Health as a Theoretical Concept.Christopher Boorse - 1977 - Philosophy of Science 44 (4):542-573.
Medical Nihilism.Jacob Stegenga - 2018 - Oxford University Press.

View all 19 references / Add more references

Similar books and articles

Should We Be Afraid of Medical AI?Ezio Di Nucci - 2019 - Journal of Medical Ethics 45 (8):556-558.
Democratizing Algorithmic Fairness.Pak-Hang Wong - 2020 - Philosophy and Technology 33 (2):225-244.
Ethical Decision-Making, Passivity and Pharmacy.R. J. Cooper, P. Bissell & J. Wingfield - 2008 - Journal of Medical Ethics 34 (6):441-445.