Douglas Diekema has argued that it is not the best interest standard, but the harm principle that serves as the moral basis for ethicists, clinicians, and the courts to trigger state intervention to limit parental authority in the clinic. Diekema claims the harm principle is especially effective in justifying state intervention in cases of religiously motivated medical neglect in pediatrics involving Jehovah’s Witnesses and Christian Scientists. I argue that Diekema has not articulated a harm principle that is capable of justifying state intervention in these cases. Where disagreements over appropriate care are tethered to metaphysical disagreements, it is moral-metaphysical standards, rather than merely moral standards, that are needed to provide substantive guidance. I provide a discussion of Diekema’s harm principle to the broader end of highlighting an inconsistency between the theory and practice of secular bioethics when overriding religiously based medical decisions. In a secular state, ethicists, clinicians, and the courts are purportedly neutral with respect to moral-metaphysical positions, especially regarding those claims considered to be religious. However, the practice of overriding religiously based parental requests requires doffing the mantle of neutrality. In the search for a meaningful standard by which to override religiously based parental requests in pediatrics, bioethicists cannot avoid some minimal metaphysical commitments. To resolve this inconsistency, bioethicists must either begin permitting religiously based requests, even at the cost of children’s lives, or admit that at least some moral-metaphysical disputes can be rationally adjudicated.
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DOI 10.1007/s11017-019-09480-1
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References found in this work BETA

After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory.Samuel Scheffler - 1983 - Philosophical Review 92 (3):443.
Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong.Fred Feldman & J. L. Mackie - 1979 - Philosophical Review 88 (1):134.

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