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Why the Kantian ideal survives medical learning curves, and why it matters
  1. B Brecher
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Bob Brecher
 School of Historical & Critical Studies, University of Brighton, 10–11 Pavilion parade, Brighton BN2 1RA, UK; r.brecher{at}


The “Kantian ideal” is often misunderstood as invoking individual autonomy rather than rational self legislation. Le Morvan and Stock’s otherwise insightful discussion of “Medical learning curves and the Kantian ideal”—for example—draws the mistaken inference that that ideal is inconsistent with the realities of medical practice. But it is not. Rationally to be a patient entails accepting its necessary conditions.

  • autonomy
  • Kant
  • liberal individual
  • rational person

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  • i For an extended general discussion of autonomy and how Kant’s notion of it is misrepresented in discussions of health care, see Secker B.4 My thanks to one of this journal’s reviewers for directing me to this excellent discussion. Secker does not, however, share my optimism about using Kant’s own approach in healthcare ethics (Secker,4 pp 52–6).

  • ii For a more extended discussion see Neumann (Neumann3 pp 290–2).

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