In this article, I assess the position that voluntary euthanasia (VE) and physician-assisted suicide (PAS) ought not to be accepted in the cases of persons who suffer existentially but who have no medical condition, because existential questions do not fall within the domain of physicians’ professional expertise. I maintain that VE and PAS based on suffering arising from medical conditions involves existential issues relevantly similar to those confronted in connection with existential suffering. On that basis I conclude that if VE (...) and PAS based on suffering arising from medical conditions is taken to fall within the domain of medical expertise, it is not consistent to use the view that physicians’ professional expertise does not extend to existential questions as a reason for denying requests for VE and PAS from persons who suffer existentially but have no medical condition. (shrink)
An adaptation of Pascal’s Wager argument has been considered useful in deciding about the provision of life-sustaining treatment for patients in persistent vegetative state. In this article, I assess whether people making such decisions should resort to the application of Pascal’s idea. I argue that there is no sufficient reason to give it an important role in making the decisions.
It has been argued that voluntary euthanasia (VE) and physician-assisted suicide (PAS) are morally wrong. Yet, a gravely suffering patient might insist that he has a moral right to the procedures even if they were morally wrong. There are also philosophers who maintain that an agent can have a moral right to do something that is morally wrong. In this article, I assess the view that a suffering patient can have a moral right to VE and PAS despite the moral (...) wrongness of the procedures in light of the main argument for a moral right to do wrong found in recent philosophical literature. I maintain that the argument does not provide adequate support for such a right to VE and PAS. (shrink)
Opponents of voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide often maintain that the procedures ought not to be accepted because ending an innocent human life would both be morally wrong in itself and have unfortunate consequences. A gravely suffering patient can grant that ending his life would involve such harm but still insist that he would have reason to continue living only if there were something to him in his abstaining from ending his life. Though relatively rarely, the notion of meaning of (...) life has figured in recent medical ethical debate on voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. And in current philosophical discussion on meaning of life outside the medical ethical debate on voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide several authors have argued that being moral and having a meaningful existence are connected to each other. In this article, I assess whether his intentionally refraining from causing the harm related to voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide would involve something to such a patient in the sense that it would promote the meaningfulness of his life. (shrink)
The concept of dignity figures prominently in legal and moral discussion on such topics as human rights, euthanasia, abortion, and criminal punishment. Yet the notion has been criticized for being indeterminate and either insufficient or redundant (or both) in justifying the kinds of legal and moral rights and views its proponents use it to vindicate. The criticisms have inspired some novel conceptions of dignity. One of them is Tarunabh Khaitan’s proposal that dignity should be understood as an expressive norm. In (...) this article, I assess Khaitan’s suggestion. I maintain that it faces two challenges that its advocates should be able to solve for the proposal to be plausible. (shrink)
Abstract In a recent issue of Neuroethics , I considered whether the notion of human dignity could help us in solving the moral problems the advent of the diagnostic category of minimally conscious state (MCS) has brought forth. I argued that there is no adequate account of what justifies bestowing all MCS patients with the special worth referred to as human dignity. Therefore, I concluded, unless that difficulty can be solved we should resort to other values than human dignity in (...) addressing the moral problems MCS poses. In his new book Christopher Kaczor criticizes the argument I put forward. Below, I respond to Kaczor’s criticism. I maintain that the considerations he presents do not undermine my argument nor succeed in providing adequate justification for the view that all MCS patients possess the worth referred to as human dignity. Content Type Journal Article Category Original Paper Pages 1-11 DOI 10.1007/s12152-011-9147-z Authors Jukka Varelius, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Philosophy, University of Turku, Turku, 20014 Finland Journal Neuroethics Online ISSN 1874-5504 Print ISSN 1874-5490. (shrink)
In this article, I consider whether the advance directive of a person in minimally conscious state ought to be adhered to when its prescriptions conflict with her current wishes. I argue that an advance directive can have moral significance after its issuer has succumbed to minimally conscious state. I also defend the view that the patient can still have a significant degree of autonomy. Consequently, I conclude that her advance directive ought not to be applied. Then I briefly assess whether (...) considerations pertaining to respecting the patient's autonomy could still require obedience to the desire expressed in her advance directive and arrive at a negative answer. (shrink)
In contemporary Western biomedical ethics, informed consent practices are commonly justified in terms of the intrinsic value of patient autonomy. James Stacey Taylor maintains that this conception of the moral grounding of medical informed consent is mistaken. On the basis of his reasoning to that effect, Taylor argues that medical informed consent is justified by the instrumental value of personal autonomy. In this article, I examine whether Taylor's justification of medical informed consent is plausible.
It has been suggested that, in addition to individual level decision-making, informed consent procedures could be used in collective decision-making too. One of the main criticisms directed at this suggestion concerns decision-making power. It is maintained that consent is a veto power concept and that, as such, it is not appropriate for collective decision-making. This paper examines this objection to collective informed consent. It argues that veto power informed consent can have some uses in the collective level and that when (...) it is not appropriate the decision power a concerned party ought to have in connection with an arrangement should be made relative to the interest she has at stake in it. It concludes that the objection examined does not undermine collective informed consent. (shrink)
Whistle-blowing would appear to involve a conflict between employee loyalty and protection of public interest. Several business ethicists have, however, argued that this conflict is indeed merely apparent. According to the central argument to that effect, when the nature of employee loyalty is understood correctly, it becomes clear that whistle-blowing does not threaten employees' loyalty to their employer. This is because blowing the whistle about one's employer's wrongdoing and being loyal to them serves the same goal, the moral good of (...) the employer. In this article, I assess this philosophical argument for the conclusion that the moral problem of whistle-blowing is not real. I argue that the way of defending the view that whistle-blowing is not morally problematic is implausible. (shrink)
Recent progress in neurosciences has improved our understanding of chronic disorders of consciousness. One example of this advancement is the emergence of the new diagnostic category of minimally conscious state (MCS). The central characteristic of MCS is impaired consciousness. Though the phenomenon now referred to as MCS pre-existed its inclusion in diagnostic classifications, the current medical ethical concepts mainly apply to patients with normal consciousness and to non-conscious patients. Accordingly, how we morally should stand with persons in minimally conscious state (...) remains unclear. In this paper, I examine whether the notion of human dignity could provide us with guidance with the moral difficulties MCS gives rise to. More precisely, I focus on the question of whether we are justified in holding that persons in minimally conscious state possess human dignity. (shrink)
Services of ethics consultants are nowadays commonly used in such various spheres of life as engineering, public administration, business, law, health care, journalism, and scientific research. It has however been maintained that use of ethics consultants is incompatible with personal autonomy; in moral matters individuals should be allowed to make their own decisions. The problem this criticism refers to can be conceived of as a conflict between the professional autonomy of ethics experts and the autonomy of the persons they serve. (...) This paper addresses this conflict and maintains that when the nature of both ethics consultation and individual autonomy is properly understood, the professional autonomy of ethics experts is compatible with the autonomy of the persons they assist. (shrink)
Services of ethics committees are nowadays commonly used in such various spheres of life as health care, public administration, business, law, engineering, and scientific research. It is taken that as their members have expertise in ethics, these committees can have valuable contributions to make in solving practical moral problems. It has, however, also been maintained that it is simply absurd to claim that one has some special knowledge and skills in moral matters; in connection with moral questions there is no (...) expertise to be had. In this paper, I assess this criticism of the use of ethics committees and ethics consultants. I argue that there is no sufficient reason to reject the possibility of ethical expertise. (shrink)
The moral status of business bluffing is a controversial issue. On the one hand, bluffing would seem to be relevantly similar to lying and deception. Because of this, business bluffing can be taken to be an activity that is at least prima facie morally condemnable. On the other hand, it has often been claimed that in business bluffing is part of the game and that therefore there is nothing morally questionable in business bluffing. In a recent issue of this journal, (...) Fritz Allhoff puts forward a novel defence of business bluffing. In this article, I will examine Allhoff’s arguments for the moral acceptability of business bluffing and argue that they are implausible. (shrink)
A moral problem arises when a patient refuses a treatment that would save her life. Should the patient be treated against her will? According to an influential approach to questions of biomedical ethics, certain considerations pertaining to individual autonomy provide a solution to this problem. According to this approach, we should respect the patient’s autonomy and, since she has made an autonomous decision against accepting the treatment, she should not be treated. This article argues against the view that our answer (...) to the question of whether or not the refusing patient ought to be treated should be based on these kinds of considerations pertaining to individual autonomy and maintains that finding a plausible answer to this question presupposes that we resolve questions concerning subjectivity and objectivity of individual wellbeing. (shrink)
This articles assesses the arguments that bioethicists have presented for the view that patient’ autonomy has value over and beyond its instrumental value in promoting the patients’ wellbeing. It argues that this view should be rejected and concludes that patients’ autonomy should be taken to have only instrumental value in medicine.
It is plausible that what possible courses of action patients may legitimately expect their physicians to take is ultimately determined by what medicine as a profession is supposed to do and, consequently, that we can determine the moral acceptability of voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide on the basis of identifying the proper goals of medicine. This article examines the main ways of defining the proper goals of medicine found in the recent bioethics literature and argues that they cannot provide a (...) clear answer to the question of whether or not voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are morally acceptable. It is suggested that to find a plausible answer to this question and to complete the task of defining the proper goals of medicine, we must determine what is the best philosophical theory about the nature of prudential value. (shrink)
Individual autonomy is a prominent value in Western medicine and medical ethics, and there it is often accepted that the only way to pay proper respect to autonomy is to let the patients themselves determine what is good for them. Adopting this approach has, however, given rise to some unwanted results, thus motivating a quest for an objective conception of health. Unfortunately, the purportedly objective conceptions of health have failed in objectivity, and if a conception of health is not acceptable (...) for all agents, the threat of offending the patients’ autonomy arises. This article sketches an objective conception of health that is able to respect individual autonomy. (shrink)
Among the different approaches to questions of biomedical ethics, there is a view that stresses the importance of a patient’s right to make her own decisions in evaluative questions concerning her own well-being. This approach, the autonomy-based approach to biomedical ethics, has usually led to the adoption of a subjective theory of well-being on the basis of its commitment to the value of autonomy and to the view that well-being is always relative to a subject. In this article, it is (...) argued that these two commitments need not lead to subjectivism concerning the nature of well-being. (shrink)