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Kantian Ethics in Healthcare Management and Ethical Dilemmas

Kantian Ethics in Healthcare Management and Ethical Dilemmas

With the great advancement science has made in medicine and healthcare, certain standards have been set. These standards are important because they direct the services offered by medical practitioners. Protocols and procedures must be observed and strictly followed. Even when medical practitioners follow the protocols, they face ethical dilemmas. This paper discusses the Kantian theory of ethics in terms of the roles and responsibilities of healthcare managers and analyzes the theory concerning the ethical dilemmas medical professionals confront. When medical professionals, including healthcare managers, face ethical dilemmas, they must be driven by their duty to make moral choices.

Kantian Theory

Kantian ethical theory conforms to the happiness obtained by humans. The theory is founded on deontological theory, which states that an action is right or wrong depending on whether it fulfills human duty. Kant identified the actions that were not good regardless of their outcomes, even if they brought a lot of happiness to people. Such actions include theft and murder. He argued that there exists an utmost belief that guides morals and called it The Categorical Imperative. In this regard, Kant argued that there is a command that makes people not perform certain actions. For example, “Do not kill!” is a command that makes people not kill even if killing may benefit them. The Kantian ethical theory stipulates that an action is good or bad depending on the intention of the person performing the act and not on the consequences. A person’s motivation to act determines whether it is ethical or unethical. He continues that a person should be motivated by morality, not emotions, to perform actions. Generally, Kant argues that doing good should be driven by one’s duty, not because one enjoys it. He contends that it is moral to perform one’s duty even if it is not enjoyable.

Kantian Theory in Terms of Roles and Responsibilities of Managers in Health Care

Healthcare managers are responsible for ensuring that patients receive the right medication and can be happy again after they overcome their illnesses. This is in line with Kantian theory, which conforms to happiness obtained by people. They collaborate with healthcare workers such as nurses, physicians, and suppliers to ensure their healthcare facilities provide high-quality client services. In this regard, the managers intend to ensure that their patients are served well. The managers are motivated to perform their activities by their duty and not emotions. They make strategic decisions that govern how healthcare facilities operate and allocate funds to various projects to ensure they are completed successfully. They make the decisions not because they enjoy making them and seeing them implemented but because they have to make such decisions. They would therefore make the decisions and see their health facilities offer good services even if they would not draw enjoyment from the actions.

How Kantian Theory Relates to the Dilemmas That Healthcare Providers Must Confront

Healthcare providers are faced with various dilemmas while undertaking their duty of taking care of patients. Healthcare professionals must accord their patients autonomy regardless of their conditions of the patients. In this regard, the professionals allow patients to make their own decisions regarding the treatment after being given the options. The patient has to be explained about the outcomes of various treatment processes and lets to choose the one they prefer. Healthcare professionals have to accept the decision made by the patient irrespective of whether the outcome will be detrimental or beneficial to the patient’s health. This aligns with Kantian theory, which concentrates on providing people with happiness. In this case, and line with Kantian ethical theory, the motive of the medical professional is to help the patient attain happiness. However, medical professionals work requires giving the patient alternatives and the possibility to choose. Therefore, in this case, the healthcare professional is driven by morality, not emotions. The beneficence principle, the duty to do good, explains Kantian theory stipulating that doing good should be driven by one’s duty.


While dealing with human health, there is no doubt that medical practitioners face many ethical dilemmas. The Kantian theory postulates that healthcare professionals should be driven by their duty to make moral choices when faced with ethical dilemmas.

📎 References

1. Dean, R. (2006). The value of humanity in Kant’s moral theory. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
2. James, G. S. W. (2002). Morality, dignity and pragmatism: An essay on the future of morality (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University College London, UK.
3. Joas, H. (2000). The genesis of values. Cambridge, MA: Polity Press.
4. Morrison, E. E. (2011). Ethics in health administration: A practical approach for decision makers (2nd ed.). Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.