Persuasion as respect for persons: An alternative view of autonomy and of the limits of discourse

Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 26 (1):13 – 34 (2001)
The article calls for a departure from the common concept of autonomy in two significant ways: it argues for the supremacy of semantic understanding over procedure, and claims that clinicians are morally obliged to make a strong effort to persuade patients to accept medical advice. We interpret the value of autonomy as derived from the right persons have to respect, as agents who can argue, persuade and be persuaded in matters of utmost personal significance such as decisions about medical care. Hence, autonomy should and could be respected only after such an attempt has been made. Understanding suffering to a significant degree is a prerequisite to sincere efforts of persuasion. It is claimed that a modified and pragmatic form of discourse is the necessary framework for understanding suffering and for compassionately interacting with the frail
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DOI 10.1076/jmep.
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