Doctors Prescribing Placebos
Webcast Q&A: 5 June 2011, Question 6
I answered a question on doctors prescribing placebos on 5 June 2011. You can listen to or download the podcast of just this question below – or check out the whole episode of Philosophy in Action Radio.
Is it ethical for a psychiatrist (or other doctor) to prescribe placebos? This question arose as a result of this article: The power of placebos. While the alleged benefits of placebos mentioned in the article can be argued, my question is: To the extent a placebo is beneficial to a patient, is the doctor justified in prescribing it to him? Of course, the doctor cannot reveal to the patient at the time of prescription since it nullifies the effect of the placebo.
My Answer, In Brief: The placebo effect is genuine, in that the mind can stimulate healing even without effective medicines. Doctors might prescribe them with some general consent of their patients, particularly if the alternatives risk significant side-effects or other harms.
- Duration: 9:17
- Download: MP3 Segment (3.2 MB)
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- Neurobiological Mechanisms of the Placebo Effect by Fabrizio Benedetti et al.
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About Philosophy in Action
I'm Dr. Diana Brickell (formerly Diana Hsieh). I'm a philosopher, and I've long specialized in the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. I completed my Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2009. I retired from work as a public intellectual in 2015.
From September 2009 to September 2015, I produced a radio show and podcast, Philosophy in Action Radio. In the primary show, my co-host Greg Perkins and I answered questions applying rational principles to the challenges of real life. We broadcast live over the internet on Sunday mornings.
My first book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame, can be purchased in paperback and Kindle. The book defends the justice of moral praise and blame of persons using an Aristotelian theory of moral responsibility, thereby refuting Thomas Nagel's "problem of moral luck." My second book (and online course), Explore Atlas Shrugged, is a fantastic resource for anyone wishing to study Ayn Rand's epic novel in depth.
I can be reached via e-mail to email@example.com.