Application of the Normative Ethical Theories

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Assignment 1: Application of the Normative Ethical Theories For this assignment, I have chosen Case 1.2. This case deals with a psychiatrist, Dr. Smith, in private practise who works with child abusers. He feels client confidentiality is paramount in being able to treat these people effectively and as a result does not report the abuse to the authorities, nor does he mention anything about child abuse in the client’s records. The question the study guide asks us to consider is “Is Dr. Smith’s confidentiality policy morally justifiable.” This takes a look at his overall actions. Simpler questions would be “Is Dr. Smith’s intentional practise of omitting important information relevant to his client’s treatment ethical?” or “Is Dr. Smith’s failure to report his client’s actions to the authorities morally justifiable?” Both would be good questions, but I believe the question the study guide asks us to consider embrace both of these questions. The possible answers to the question are “yes” or “no”. I will be using rule-based utilitarianism and Kantian deontology to analyse this case study. There is not enough information to consider act-based utilitarianism: Act-based utilitarianism essentially says that one should perform that act which will bring about the greatest amount of good (“happiness”) over bad for everyone affected by the act. Each situation and each person must be assessed on their own merits (Thiroux, 2004, p. 42). Since we cannot look at each client individually to determine whether or not Dr. Smith’s confidentiality policy is morally justifiable (it may be for one client, but not for another), we cannot properly answer this question using act-based utilitarianism. Rule-based utilitarianism, on the other hand, changes the basic utilitarianism’s principle from “everyone should always act to bring about the greatest good (i.e., “happiness”) for all

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