Foreseeing is not necessarily the same as intendingBMJ 1999; 318 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.318.7196.1431 (Published 29 May 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:1431
And the difference is crucial for patients and their doctors
- Raanan Gillon, Professor of medical ethics
- Imperial College School of Medicine at St Mary's, London W2 1PG
Like many other general practitioners I breathed a sigh of relief when Dr David Moor was acquitted of murder earlier this month.1 Like him and many other doctors, I too have given a patient intravenous heroin intending to relieve his distress but foreseeing that my action might hasten death. Yet some argue—often passionately—that there is no difference between (a) my foreseeing that my action may kill my patient and my patient then dying and (b) my intending my action to kill my patient and my patient then dying. If the court believed that there was no difference then I, as well as Dr Moor and countless other doctors, would be murderers. I argue that a and b are different logically, experientially, conceptually, legally, and …
Log in using your username and password
Log in through your institution
Subscribe from £173 *
Subscribe and get access to all BMJ articles, and much more.
* For online subscription
Access this article for 1 day for:
£38 / $45 / €42 (excludes VAT)
You can download a PDF version for your personal record.