Ulysses Contracts in Medicine

Law and Philosophy 31 (1):77-98 (2012)
Ulysses contracts are a method by which one person binds himself by agreeing to be bound by others. In medicine such contracts have primarily been discussed as ways of treating people with episodic mental illnesses, where the features of the illness are such that they now judge that they will refuse treatment at the time it is needed. Enforcing Ulysses contracts in these circumstances would require medical professionals to override the express refusal of the patient at the time treatment is required, something that is generally problematic both ethically and legally. In this paper I will argue that despite appearances Ulysses contracts can make it the case that treating a patient in such circumstances is an instance of treating him with his consent, although safeguards are needed to ensure that this is the case. Given the potential benefits to patients I further argue that modified Ulysses contracts should be made legally enforceable
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