Indexing Burdens and Benefits of Treatment to Age: Revisiting Paul Ramsey’s “Medical Indications” Policy

Christian Bioethics 27 (2):183-202 (2021)
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Abstract

This essay reconsiders Paul Ramsey’s “medical indications” policy and argues that his reconstruction of the case of Joseph Saikewicz demonstrates that there is more room for caretakers to decline treatments for “voiceless dependents” than his interlocutors have sometimes thought. It furthermore draws on Ramsey’s earlier work to propose ways that Ramsey might have improved his policy, and argues that the shortcomings of Ramsey’s view arise from his bracketing of age in making determinations about what form of medical care is owed. The reading of Ramsey set forth here suggests Cathleen Kaveny’s depiction of the ‘medical indications’ policy in Ethics at the Edges of Law is too rigid and inflexible, even while it affirms other aspects of her critique.

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