The Physician as Friend to the Patient

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


My question in the chapter is this: could (and should) the role of the physician be construed as that of a friend to the patient? I begin by briefly discussing the “friendship model” of the physician–patient relationship – according to which physicians and patients could, and perhaps should, be friends – as well as its history and limitations. Given these limitations, I focus on the more one-sided idea that the physician could, and perhaps should, be a friend to the patient (a “physician-qua-friend model” of the physician–patient relationship). I show that given recent developments in our understanding of the physician–patient relationship, this idea is far from asinine. I then make the case that the most plausible conception of the physician-qua-friend model incorporates the following components: (a) a common goal, that is, one that physician and patient share; (b) certain forms of equality between physician and patient; (c) an ideal of a caring physician. Finally, I show how the model can be instantiated in a certain type of physician–patient interaction, namely, in physician-assisted dying.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Friendship
EditorsDiane Jeske
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781003007012
ISBN (Print)9780367440022, 9781032306278
StatePublished - Sep 27 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


Dive into the research topics of 'The Physician as Friend to the Patient'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this