In utilitarianism, one should attempt to maximize the happiness for the greatest number of people. In this case, the people subject to happiness are the parents and the patient. Lying to the parents keeps the patient happy as it is what he asks for. The happiness of the parents is more complicated because it is a prediction. For instance, lying to them about the situation of their child could cause them happiness if he gets better without them ever knowing he had problems. But if one tells the truth, he might cause useless fear for the parents if he finally gets better anyway. The predictions of the future wellness or sickness of the patient is uncertain. The physician should tell the parents about their son only if there are clear signs which could potentially cause more suffering than happiness such as the death of the patient or permanent damage due to drug abuse.
Thus, one should go against the rule of confidentiality and divulge the facts of the patient to the parents because the patient cannot judge what would bring the most happiness, but a physician has the knowledge and ability to judge if suffering can occur. Divulging the drug addiction to close ones can cause more happiness since they can he...
... middle of paper ...
... go against his character of a good doctor who aims to help his patients.
The problem with acting virtuously as a “good” doctor is that it is too broad of a definition and knowing what is good to do is extremely hard, even assuming goodness exists as a form. Indeed, the existence of goodness is the core premise of this theory, but knowing what goodness actually means is different than acting virtuously.
A mix of all the three above theories can be used to justify lying or telling the truth. The reality of a physician’s practice is a case to case scenario type. As described above, there are cases where lying is good and some not. Every situation is different from the other, but a general guidance from the above philosophical theories can be used, not one specifically since the variety of cases is too broad to make one rule containing the right action for all of them.
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