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The Ethical Treatment of DepressionAutonomy through Psychotherapy$
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Paul Biegler

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780262015493

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262015493.001.0001

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A Special Duty to Promote Autonomy in Depression: The Moral Case for Psychotherapy

A Special Duty to Promote Autonomy in Depression: The Moral Case for Psychotherapy

(p.142) (p.143) 7 A Special Duty to Promote Autonomy in Depression: The Moral Case for Psychotherapy
The Ethical Treatment of Depression

Paul Biegler

The MIT Press

This chapter proposes that physicians have a moral obligation to administer cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) to depressed patients by arguing that CBT has a superior capacity in promoting autonomy in depression. In making this argument, two claims must first be validated; first, it must be demonstrated that the promotion of autonomy is a legitimate, if not the principal, goal of treating depression and, second, it must be established that, even if antidepressant medication (ADM) helps in promoting autonomy in depression, physicians have a duty to do more than prescribe ADM to depressed patients. The first claim utilizes the “parity of reasoning” to show that promoting autonomy in depression is consistent with existing medical practice, while the second is substantiated by an appeal to the principle of proportionality to show that promotion if autonomy through CBT is directly proportional to the threat to autonomy depression poses for sufferers.

Keywords:   moral obligation, CBT, autonomy, depression, ADM, parity of reasoning, principle of proportionality

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