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J Med Ethics. 2007 Feb;33(2):119-22.

Kant, curves and medical learning practice: a reply to Le Morvan and Stock.

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Department of Primary Care and General Practice, Centre for Biomedical Ethics, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham,B38 9AJ, UK.

Erratum in

  • J Med Ethics. 2007 Jul;33(7):385.


In a recent paper published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, Le Morvan and Stock claim that the kantian ideal of treating people always as ends in themselves and never merely as a means is in direct and insurmountable conflict with the current medical practice of allowing practitioners at the bottom of their "learning curve" to "practise their skills" on patients. In this response, I take up the challenge they issue [corrected] and try to reconcile this conflict. The kantian ideal offered in the paper is an incomplete characterisation of Kant's moral philosophy, and the formula of humanity is considered in isolation without taking into account other salient kantian principles. I also suggest that their argument based on "necessary for the patient" assumes too narrow a reading of "necessary". This reply is intended as an extension to, rather than a criticism of, their work.

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