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Pretending to care
  1. Doug Hardman
  1. Department of Psychology, Bournemouth University, Poole, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Doug Hardman, Department of Psychology, Bournemouth University, Poole BH12 5BB, UK; dihardman{at}


On one hand, it is commonly accepted that clinicians should not deceive their patients, yet on the other there are many instances in which deception could be in a patient’s best interest. In this paper, I propose that this conflict is in part driven by a narrow conception of deception as contingent on belief. I argue that we cannot equate non-deceptive care solely with introducing or sustaining a patient’s true belief about their condition or treatment, because there are many instances of clinical care which are non-doxastic and non-deceptive. Inasmuch as this is true, better understanding of non-doxastic attitudes, such as hope and pretence, could improve our understanding of deception in clinical practice.

  • Ethics- Medical
  • Philosophy- Medical

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  • Contributors DH is responsible for all aspects of the article.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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