Economics, Ethics and Public Policy
Chapter 9: The ethics of medical travel
The deontology may be sordid: no one but a Bad Samaritan walks away from a muggerís victim merely because the muggerís victim has already been mugged. The consequentialism is a different matter: a triple bypass in India is preferable to no bypass at all even if the attending surgeon has no service ethic but his fee. The need justifies the greed. Without the triple bypass a human life would prematurely have been snuffed out. Economic utopians are natural communitarians. They have an atavistic longing for William Morrisís Nowhere when production was driven by mutual aid and the goods in the shops were free. Real-world individuals are more frequently natural pragmatists. They like the meat, the beer and the bread so much that they are prepared to ignore the venality of the gain-seekerís stance: ëGive me that which I want, and you shall have this which you want, is the meaning of every such offer; and it is in this manner that we obtain from one another the far greater part of those good offices which we stand in need ofí (Smith, 1776 : I, 18). We want the meat. We pay the money. We want the roses. We put up with the thorns. Why should a triple bypass in India be any different?
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