Reconceiving the therapeutic obligation

David Merli, Joshua A. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The "therapeutic obligation" (TO) is a physician's duty to provide his patients with what he believes is the best available treatment. We begin by discussing some prominent formulations of the obligation before raising two related considerations against those formulations. First, they do not make sense of cases where doctors are permitted to provide suboptimal care. Second, they give incorrect results in cases where doctors are choosing treatments in challenging epistemic environments. We then propose and defend an account of the therapeutic obligation that solves the problems that undermined previous efforts at formulating the TO. We conclude by considering how apparent problems with our proposal actually rest on difficulties with informed consent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-74
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Medicine and Philosophy (United Kingdom)
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2014


  • randomized clinical trials
  • suboptimal treatment options
  • therapeutic obligation


Dive into the research topics of 'Reconceiving the therapeutic obligation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this