Our medical school entrance requirements for doctors are slowly changing for the worse. I came across what our faculty termed "Progressive medical ethics", the first corollary is as follows:
"What is best for the collective is best for the individual. That is, since individual humans only achieve their humanity as a part of the greater whole, it follows that the chief obligation of any individual within a society is to act for the good of the collective."
How does one go about refuting or explaining to others why such an ethical system is in fact regressive and not necessarily in the patient"s best interests
You might begin by pointing out a clear counterexample to their statement that "what is best for the collective is best for the individual." All it takes is a single case to prove the idea false, so just come up with something which they would consider clearly good for a collective, but which is also obviously not good for some individual(s) in that collective.
Examples abound: Consider the classic of villagers appeasing volcano gods by tossing in a virgin... not exactly a bonus for the virgin. More recently and from the field in question, there is hideously evil medical research sometimes conducted on unknowing/unwilling subjects... medical research that benefits the collective, but which is likewise not exactly a bonus for its victims.
Consider enough examples and the conclusion is hard to evade: this "progressive" approach to ethics is in fact the opposite of ethical. The more rational among your audience might then be receptive to discussing the proper approach to morality.
answered Jul 12 '11 at 17:54
Greg Perkins ♦♦
I wonder how many of the students and faculty members at that school realize that when they endorse altruism in ethics, they are also endorsing socialized medicine in politics. There is an inexorable connection between the view that one is not fully human until one is "part" of some undefined "greater whole" to which one is allegedly duty bound to sacrifice oneself (and others), and practical action. It is only a question of time, in a system of sacrifice, before someone comes to say, "Your duty is to sacrifice, and I'm here to collect, on behalf of all those who have less than you."
Anyone who is tempted to regard the sacrifice of the individual to the collective as a noble moral ideal should take a cold, hard look at socialized medicine (and socialism in general), and ask himself if he really wants to live in that kind of system. There are a number of Objectivist resources available specifically regarding socialized medicine:
The belief that "individual humans only achieve their humanity as a part of the greater whole" expresses a mystical view of "humanity," i.e., of what makes man distinctly human and different from animals. Objectivism (and Aristotle) see man as the rational animal, endowed with a superlative rational faculty and with splendor in using it. Rationality is man's moral ideal, not sacrifice -- living by productiveness and trade guided by reason. To fight the centuries-old idea of sacrifice as man's moral ideal, one will need a superior moral ideal to dislodge and displace it. Objectivism (and Aristotle) have shown the way.
This is the core tenet of collectivism. What this means is that individuals have no rights, no mind and no power, and that their lives belongs to the collective. But the collective is not an entity; it is a group of people. To say that what is best for the collective means best for certain people in the collective -- and if you're not one of them, then it's really a form of slavery.
In other words, individuals have no value; only the collective has value; we can't even be happy without the "greater whole."
I would start by breaking things down. Explain what a collective is. Explain what it means for something to be in the patient's best interest. What if their best interest conflicts with the collective?
answered Aug 02 '11 at 07:20