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On lying and deceiving.
  1. D Bakhurst
  1. Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

    Abstract

    This article challenges Jennifer Jackson's recent defence of doctors' rights to deceive patients. Jackson maintains there is a general moral difference between lying and intentional deception: while doctors have a prima facie duty not to lie, there is no such obligation to avoid deception. This paper argues 1) that an examination of cases shows that lying and deception are often morally equivalent, and 2) that Jackson's position is premised on a species of moral functionalism that misconstrues the nature of moral obligation. Against Jackson, it is argued that both lying and intentional deception are wrong where they infringe a patient's right to autonomy or his/her right to be treated with dignity. These rights represent 'deontological constraints' on action, defining what we must not do whatever the functional value of the consequences. Medical ethics must recognise such constraints if it is to contribute to the moral integrity of medical practice.

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