The trouble with rules

In his Presidential Address at the 1998 Annual Conference, Chris Cullen argued that rule-governed behaviour is often insensitive to external changes.

ON 20 November 1997, Mr Jim Compton died of heart failure in a public lavatory 20 yards from the Accident and Emergency Department of his local hospital. Staff had been asked three times to come to his aid, but had refused because they believed it to be against the hospital rules for them to treat people outside the building. This is the sombre side of what I am saying in this address. I hope that, even though there are more light-hearted and less serious examples later, people will still appreciate the seriousness of the issue.

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