Can doctors and nurses be ‘too honest’?
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Can doctors and nurses be ‘too honest’? book
Moral virtues, as defined by Aristotle, cannot be overdone. Part of what having a virtue involves is having and exercising judgement appropriately. Thus, for example, someone who is courageous, judges well what dangers need to be faced; someone who has good temper, judges well where anger is called for: ‘anyone can get angry – that is easy … but to do this to the right person, to the right extent, at the right time, with the right motive, and in the right way, that is not for everyone, nor is it easy’ (Ross 1954: Nicomachean Ethics ll.9). Hence, if we take honesty (and truthfulness as an aspect of honesty) to be a virtue, it does not make sense to suppose one can be ‘too honest’ or ‘too truthful’.