Reproductive gift relationships must be seen in their totality, not just as helping someone have a child. Noncommercial surrogacy cannot be treated as a mere act of altruism--any valorizing of altruistic surrogacy and reproductive gift-giving must be assessed within the wider context of women's political inequality.
Access to abortion services in the United States has become increasingly limited because of a decrease in rural hospital providers and a growing shortage of clinicians willing to offer this service. As of 1988, 83% of United States counties had no identified provider. The deficit in numbers of clinicians stems from the current imbalance between incentives and disincentives. The single most powerful incentive appears to be altruism. On the other hand, disincentives include poor pay, frequent harassment, low prestige, suboptimal working conditions, and tedium.
The analogy between gift-giving and organ donation was first suggested at the beginning of the transplantation era, when policy makers and legislators were promoting voluntary organ donation as the preferred procurement procedure. It was believed that the practice of gift-giving had some features which were also thought to be necessary to ensure that an organ procurement procedure would be morally acceptable, namely voluntarism and altruism.
In the study of organ and tissue transplantation, the focus tends to be on donation. But where there is "giving," there is also "getting:" receiving help. Altruism, helping behavior, and the exchange of benefits have received extensive attention from social psychological researchers. The gift exchange described by anthropologist Marcel Mauss provides a framework for reviewing this social psychological research on altruism and exchange and applying it to transplantation.
The patient-doctor relationship has recently come under intense scrutiny, resulting in a re-evaluation of the basis of that relationship. The papers by Glannon and Ross, and McKay seek to identify the sources of authority in the patient-doctor relationship by evaluating it in terms of the concept of altruism. In this paper I argue that the analysis of Glannon and Ross, and of McKay is unnecessary and that the analysis offered by the latter is also flawed.
Supererogation can be distinguished from altruism, in that the former is located in the category of duty but exceeds the strict requirements of duty, whereas altruism belongs to a different moral category from duty. It follows that doctors do not act altruistically in their professional roles. Individual doctors may sometimes show supererogation, but supererogation is not a necessary feature of the medical profession. The aim of medicine is to act in the best interests of patients. This aim involves neither supererogation nor even the moral quality of beneficence.
Annals (Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada)
BACKGROUND: The discrepancy between the demand for and the supply of physician's services is the result of actions of multiple parties, including physicians. This situation raises ethical challenges for physicians, because it involves the profession's core values. OBJECTIVE: To discuss physicians' ethical obligations regarding the quantity of services that they might provide.
HIV treatment for participants who become infected during HIV vaccine trials has been the focus of ethical controversy. The obligations of sponsors to ensure that participants have access to antiretrovirals have been a particular focus of this debate. This paper presents three arguments that have been made in this regard, and some of their limitations, in anticipation of HIV vaccine trials in South Africa.
The seriousness of the risk that healthcare workers faced during SARS, and their response of service in the face of this risk, brings to light unrealistic assumptions about duty and risk that informed the debate on duty to care in the early years of HIV/AIDS. Duty to care is not based upon particular virtues of the health professions, but arises from social reflection on what response to an epidemic would be consistent with our values and our needs, recognizing our shared vulnerability to disease and death.
The most important mission of dental education is development of student professionalism. It is only within the context of professionalism that specialized knowledge and technical expertise find meaning. Altruism, integrity, caring, community focus, and commitment to excellence are attributes of professionalism. Its backbone is the obligation of service to people before service to self--a social contract. Professionalism can and should be acquired by targeted interventions, not as an assumed by-product of dental education.