The Problem with Rescue Medicine

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

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

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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.
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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.

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