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Title: Commercial Medicine and the Ethics of the Profit Motive
Contributor(s): Walsh, Adrian John  (author)orcid 
Publication Date: 2006
DOI: 10.1007/s10790-007-9046-z
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Abstract: The conclusion of our investigation into the ethics of the profit motive is that its presence in commercial medicine provides genuine grounds for concern because of two tendencies to which commercial agents, qua commercial agents, are prone. There is the tendency for such agents, in cases where significant other-regarding moral considerations clash with economic considerations, to disregard the moral in favour of the economic. There is also the tendency for commercial agents to regard medical practices as a mere means to the acquisition of wealth. As such, the profit motive is morally hazardous in the medical context for it furnishes commercial agents with temptations for socially-significant vicious behavior to which many of us are prone. The outcomes that ensue from such temptations are at odds with both the general aims of medicine and the proper aims of medical practitioners. The consequences of these claims for medicine are complicated. But the conclusion here is far less radical. The profit motive is characterized as providing non-trivial moral hazards and, as such, this provides grounds for both government regulation of, and individual vigilance when engaged in, commercial medicine. In addition there might well be exchanges in some particular goods we wish to block, for reasons other than the hazards associated with the profit motive.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: The Journal of Value Inquiry, 40(2-3), p. 341-357
Publisher: Springer Netherlands
Place of Publication: Amsterdam, Netherlands
ISSN: 0022-5363
Field of Research (FOR): 220107 Professional Ethics (incl police and research ethics)
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
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