The Uncertainty of Consciousness and Why It Is important

Abstract

How should we treat patients diagnosed with disorders of consciousness, such as patients diagnosed as minimally conscious or vegetative (yet who very well may be conscious)? Fischer and Truog (2017) argue that the consciousness and equal rights of these patients are relatively unimportant when deciding how we should treat them. That is, we should deemphasize their consciousness and equal rights and instead privilege the value judgments of the family/surrogate. We disagree. Drawing upon precautionary reasoning that we develop in Braddock (2017), we contend that the consciousness and equal rights of these patients should be important factors in medical decision making, at least as important as the value judgments of the family/surrogate.

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