Collective responsibility and the practice of medicine.

P. A. French

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


In the following essay, the theoretical apparatus for distinguishing various types of collectivities (aggregates and conglomerates) is described. This is followed by a consideration of how responsibility ascriptions to different types of collectivities are to be understood vis à vis those to individual group members. It is suggested that the "medical profession" (distinctly different from the "medical team" and the "hospital corporation") is an aggregate collectivity. That is, the "medical profession" consists of the "sum" of the identities of its membership, which can be shown to entail that if the "profession" is held responsible for something, each of its members is responsible, in some way, for it. This is to suggest that the "medical profession" is not a shield that hides individual medical practitioners from responsibility for the general state of health care. Quite the contrary. The use of the name of the aggregate in such a responsibility ascription puts each and every one of them "on call."

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-85
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Medicine and Philosophy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 1982

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Philosophy


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