The Medical Ethics of Miracle Max

In R. Greene (ed.), The Princess Bride and Philosophy: Inconceivable! Chicago, IL: Open Court. pp. 193-203 (2015)
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Abstract
Miracle Max, it seems, is the only remaining miracle worker in all of Florin. Among other things, this means that he (unlike anyone else) can resurrect the recently dead, at least in certain circumstances. Max’s peculiar talents come with significant perks (for example, he can basically set his own prices!), but they also raise a number of ethical dilemmas that range from the merely amusing to the truly perplexing: How much about Max’s “methods” does he need to reveal to his patients? Is it really OK for Max to lie about Valerie’s being a witch, even though she really isn’t? Just how much of the “truth” does Max have to tell his patients? Let’s suppose that Humperdinck had offered Max his old job back. Would it have been OK for Max to accept this offer? What about if Humperdinck wanted him to do experiments at “the Zoo”? Is Max obligated to offer his services to everyone who needs them, such as the (mostly) dead Westley and friends? Or is he free to pick and choose? In this chapter, I’ll consider how these questions might be addressed using concepts of medical ethics. As it turns out, Max’s dilemmas are not too different from the sorts of dilemmas that many medical professionals encounter in their daily lives, and exploring how Max could (or should) respond to them can help us figure out what we can do here in the “real” world.
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