The Problem with Rescue Medicine

Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 38 (1):64-81 (2013)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Is there a rational and ethical basis for efforts to rescue individuals in dire straits? When does rescue have ethical support, and when does it reflect an irrational impulse? This paper defines a Rule of Rescue and shows its intuitive appeal. It then proceeds to argue that this rule lacks support from standard principles of justice and from ethical principles more broadly, and should be rejected in many situations. I distinguish between agent-relative and agent-neutral reasons, and argue that the Rule of Rescue qualifies only in a narrow range of cases where agent-relative considerations apply. I conclude that it would be wise to set aside the Rule of Rescue in many cases, especially those involving public policies, where it has only weak normative justification. The broader implications of this analysis are noted



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 92,261

External links

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

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Duties to assist others and political obligations.George Klosko - 2004 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 3 (2):143-159.
Of rescue and responsibility: Learning to live with limits.E. Haavi Morreim - 1994 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 19 (5):455-470.
Liability for failing to rescue.TheodoreM Benditt - 1982 - Law and Philosophy 1 (3):391 - 418.
The Bystander's Duty to Rescue in Jewish Law.Aaron Kirschenbaum - 1980 - Journal of Religious Ethics 8 (2):204 - 226.
The embryo rescue case.S. Matthew Liao - 2006 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 27 (2):141-147.
Analogical Reasoning and Easy Rescue Cases.Thomas Young - 1993 - Journal of Philosophical Research 18:327-339.
Journalist as source: The moral dilemma of news rescue.David J. Vergobbi - 1992 - Journal of Mass Media Ethics 7 (4):233 – 245.
Basic animal rescue training: small animal basic life support: instuctor manual.Janet Olson - 2007 - New Brighton, MN: Basic Animal Rescue Training. Edited by Kim Helmbold.
On Gellman's Attempted Rescue.Stephen Maitzen - 2010 - European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 2 (1):193 - 198.
Saving animals from hurricanes.Stephen Person - 2012 - [New York, NY: Bearport.


Added to PP

51 (#313,850)

6 months
17 (#151,744)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Nancy Jecker
University of Washington

References found in this work

Principles of biomedical ethics.Tom L. Beauchamp - 1979 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by James F. Childress.
Famine, Affluence, and Morality.Peter Singer - 1972 - Oxford University Press USA.
Famine, affluence, and morality.Peter Singer - 1972 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 1 (3):229-243.
A defense of abortion.Judith Jarvis Thomson - 1971 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 1 (1):47-66.
The limits of morality.Shelly Kagan - 1989 - New York: Oxford University Press.

View all 26 references / Add more references