Front Page Titles (by Subject) Rights and Professional Obligations - Literature of Liberty, Autumn 1980, vol. 3, No. 3
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Rights and Professional Obligations - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, Autumn 1980, vol. 3, No. 3 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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Rights and Professional Obligations
“Rights and Roles” in Right and Wrong (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1978, pp. 167–197).
If doing good and avoiding harm constitutes our basic obligations to others, how can there be special professional obligations to certain people that necessarily involve harming some other people? Why, for example, should a doctor be loyal to his patients, at the expense of others who might need scarce medical supplies more urgently? Or why should a lawyer be loyal to his clients at the expense of an adversary whom the lawyer knows to be innocent?
The possible answer to these dilemmas might be found by treating professional obligations as analogous to friendship obligations. Just as friends ought to be freely chosen in a context that initially involves no harm to others, so also clients and patients should be freely chosen in a context that initially involves no harm to others. But as it is not the role of a friend to see that the resources that he transfers to friends are most efficiently or fairly distributed in the first place, so it is not the role of a doctor or lawyer to see that the help that he should provide is distributed most efficiently or fairly. The tasks of seeing that all people are treated fairly and that resources used efficiently are more properly handled by all the people in their other role as citizens. The doctor or lawyer then, may only be obligated to help his client, since the legal/medical context in which he works has been co-created by other citizens. This conclusion is no more surprising than our common sense conviction that we are obligated to help our friends first, since we chose them freely in a social/legal context that has been cocreated by other citizens.
The superiority of this approach can be seen by examining its chief rivals. To expect doctors to select patients by some standard of “efficiency” alone could entail either drafting (or coercing) persons to become doctors, or coercing doctors into selecting only certain patients. Or, on another alternative, if lawyers were forbidden to select clients that they couldn't lie for or (incidentally) harm others, then some clients might never receive fair, legal representation under an adversary system. Thus, the right of doctors and lawyers to select their own patients/clients and to identify themselves with their clients interests (as a friend would do), is a role-specific freedom that it would be wrong to interfere with for reasons of either greater “efficiency” or “fairness.”