Ethics and Chronic Illness

Tom Walker

Research output: Book/ReportBook

2 Citations (Scopus)


Healthcare ethics has to date had very little to say about the treatment of chronic illness. That is problematic. Chronic illness differs from other illnesses in that: 1. in most cases it cannot be cured; 2. patients can live with it for many years; and 3. its day to day management is typically carried out, not by healthcare professionals, but by the patient and/or members of their family. These features
problematise key distinctions that underlie much existing work in healthcare ethics — including those between beneficence and autonomy, between treatment and prevention, and between the recipient and provider of treatment. They also raise ethical questions that have not to date been addressed in any detail — including what healthcare professionals should do when patients are managing their illness poorly, or when changes occur that affect their patients. For these reasons chronic illness provides a lens through which to challenge the adequacy of existing approaches to healthcare ethics, exposing the gaps and false assumptions built into them. In doing so it also provides the materials to build a more philosophically adequate account of healthcare professionals’ moral
obligations than exists to date. Providing such an account is the aim of this monograph.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages242
ISBN (Electronic)978-0-429-26486-3
ISBN (Print)978-0-367-21020-5
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Ethics, Medical
  • philosophy


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