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Jackson, Jennifer. Telling the Truth
1991, Journal of Medical Ethics 17(1): 5-9.
Added by: Simon Fokt
Abstract: Are doctors and nurses bound by just the same constraints as everyone else in regard to honesty? What, anyway, does honesty require? Telling no lies? Avoiding intentional deception by whatever means? From a utilitarian standpoint lying would seem to be on the same footing as other forms of intentional deception: yielding the same consequences. But utilitarianism fails to explain the wrongness of lying. Doctors and nurses, like everyone else, have a prima facie duty not to lie - but again like everyone else, they are not duty-bound to avoid intentional deception, lying apart; except where it would involve a breach of trust.

Comment: Useful in teaching on applied ethics issues related to trust, and general values in normative ethics. To provide an interesting narrative and selection of views, this text can be used alongside Jennifer Saul's 'Just go ahead and lie' and Clea Rees' 'Better lie!'

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