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Placebo TalksModern perspectives on placebos in society$
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Amir Raz and Cory Harris

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199680702

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199680702.001.0001

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Justifying deceptive placebos

Justifying deceptive placebos

(p.52) Chapter 4 Justifying deceptive placebos
Placebo Talks

Bennett Foddy

Oxford University Press

Agreeing that placebo treatments are deceptive and arguing that deception is required to maximize patient benefit, this chapter explains that the usual objections do not apply in this special case, since placebo deception can be unlike other forms of clinical deception. Clinical deception should only be considered paternalistic or coercive when it fails to serve the stated interests of the patient. Rebutting the claim that placebos require coercion, the chapter proceeds to address a range of objections commonly raised against the use of placebos and outlines how they can be prescribed in a way that maximizes patient benefit, preserves patient autonomy, and prevents them from being abused or coerced. Although these constraints turn out to be extensive, two cases—one very common (depression) and the other, somewhat obscure (neuropathic itch)—demonstrate that it is feasible to use placebo treatments within appropriate moral boundaries.

Keywords:   placebos, clinical deception, patient autonomy, patient benefit, coercion

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