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The economic behaviour of doctors: medical altruism without an ethic?

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Listed:
  • Philippe Batifoulier
  • Nicolas Da Silva

Abstract

Health economics appears to have difficulty in taking medical ethics into consideration because of the standard figure of homo economicus. In main stream economics, the ethical attitude of a physician is then formalized in terms of “medical altruism”. This paper seeks to highlight the advantages and the contradictions of this medical altruism. We can identify several levels of problems raised by this medical altruism: theoretical paradoxes and economic policy problems for the regulator. The interest of the concept of medical altruism is to save or improve the economic theory with a more realistic assumption. However, if this assumption is more realistic, it induces paradoxes of economic theory. The misfortune for economists is that this theoretical inconstancy is lined with economic policy issues. These remain unresolved and we do not know what to do. In conclusion, we think that it becomes crucial to consider seriously medical ethics.

Suggested Citation

  • Philippe Batifoulier & Nicolas Da Silva, 2014. "The economic behaviour of doctors: medical altruism without an ethic?," EconomiX Working Papers 2014-9, University of Paris Nanterre, EconomiX.
  • Handle: RePEc:drm:wpaper:2014-9
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    healthcare; altruism; professional ethics; instrumental rationality; intrinsic motivation;

    JEL classification:

    • B41 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Economic Methodology
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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