John Stuart Mill’s Impact on Healthcare Ethics

One of the theorists who strongly impacted not only healthcare but the field of ethics as a whole is John Stuart Mill. He developed a theory called utilitarianism, which is an ethical philosophy that associates the good with value and the right with maximizing utility. The utility is worth that should influence behaviors, programs, and policies, according to utilitarianism. Maximizing utility is our moral responsibility and the correct thing to do. The utility is measured in terms of pain and pleasure and the fulfillment of choices or interests. This is applicable to healthcare in terms of maximizing the efficiency of healthcare workers to help patients (Olsen, 1997). According to act utilitarianism, people’s moral responsibility is to seek the action, intervention, or policy that maximizes utility in the precise circumstances in which such an option is being examined. Nevertheless, according to rule utilitarianism, our moral responsibility is to choose the alternative that conforms with a rule that maximizes utility.

Utilitarian considerations have been a common routine for huge percentages of healthcare workers over the past generations in terms of healthcare ethics. It is not commonplace for healthcare providers in all areas of care to make judgments based on what is best for a certain group of patients (Cohen-Almagor, 2017). For example, the US Centers for Illness Control (CDC) learns of an epidemic of a dangerous infectious disease. These officials decided to place hundreds of people in quarantine in the area where the outbreak occurred and to require that healthcare workers across the state who make a diagnosis of patients with the same communicable disease take similar precautions, as well as report the names as well as other private details of the patients to the CDC. These are moral judgments, and they bring extra moral concerns (Johnston, 2011). In any case, the primary motivation for adopting such actions in the circumstances is to safeguard the health of residents in the places where outbreaks have occurred, but such measures are eventually done to protect the health of all citizens and promote social value.


Cohen-Almagor, R. (2017). On the philosophical foundations of medical ethics: Aristotle, Kant, JS Mill and Rawls. Ethics, Medicine and Public Health, 3(4), 436-444.

Johnston, S. D. (2011). John Stuart Mill on Health Care Reform. Social Philosophy Today, 27, 63-74.

Olsen, J. A. (1997). Theories of justice and their implications for priority setting in health care. Journal of health economics, 16(6), 625-639. Web.

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