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Ethics is commonly assumed to be the one realm in which luck and risk do notintrude. It has been said that 'While one can be lucky in one's business, inone's married life, and in one's health, one cannot, so it is commonlyassumed, be subject to luck as far as one's moral worth is concerned.' Butalthough we do not normally hold people responsible for outcomes beyondtheir control, a serious examination of the role of luck and risk may leadus to conclude that very few outcomes are really within people's control.This is the paradox of 'moral luck'.Risk and Luck in Medical Ethics examines the 'moral luck' paradox in greaterdetail, relating it to Kantian, consequentialist, and virtue-basedapproaches to ethics. Dickenson applies the paradoxes of risk andluck to medical ethics, including timely discussion of risk and luck in theallocation of scarce health care resources, informed consent to treatment, decisions about withholding life-sustaining treatment, psychiatry, reproductive ethics, genetic testing, and medical research andevidence-based medicine.The book concludes with an examination of the relevance of risk and luck ina medical context to the study of global ethics. If risk and luck are takenseriously, it would seem to follow that we cannot develop any definite moralstandards at all, that we are doomed to moral relativism. However, Dickensonoffers strong counter-arguments to this view that enable us to think interms of universal standards for judging ethical systems. This claim hasdirect practical relevance for practitioners as well as philosophers.
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