By Robertson, Michael; Walter, Garry

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Extra info for Ethics and Mental Health : The Patient, Profession and Community

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Kant had proclaimed that the motto of the Enlightenment was sapere aude (dare to know). The two key concepts in Kant’s ethical philosophy are the notions of individual autonomy and duty. Kant defined autonomy as the capacity for free, rational moral choice—the ability of a person to formulate his or her own laws of morality. This is a form Kant described as “practical reason,” in which man is not beholden to divine commands or superstition, but rather a notion of secular morality based upon rational thought.

43 In recent times two factors extraneous to psychiatry may have promoted the position of utilitarianism in psychiatric ethics. 47 The other factor promoting utilitarian thinking in psychiatric ethics has been the profound changes to healthcare systems in the face of globalization and financial pressures, particularly in the United States and Australia. ”48 Green and Bloch go so far as to suggest that the psychiatrist may be ethically compromised in submitting to a ­market-­driven approach in the management of mental illness.

Each of these approaches has strengths and limitations in its application to ethical dilemmas in psychiatry. ” This is the moral philosophy of ethical hedonism, which dates from antiquity. One of the first proponents of ethical hedonism, Epicurus, wrote: Pleasure is our first and kindred good. 10 Following on from this, the philosophy of “consequentialism” takes the position that the merit of any act is evident in its ultimate consequences. When integrated with ethical hedonism, this approach to moral philosophy holds that the merit of any act is the amount of overall pleasure it generated.

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