The right not to know and the obligation to know

Journal of Medical Ethics 46 (5):300-303 (2020)

Abstract

There is significant controversy over whether patients have a ‘right not to know’ information relevant to their health. Some arguments for limiting such a right appeal to potential burdens on others that a patient’s avoidable ignorance might generate. This paper develops this argument by extending it to cases where refusal of relevant information may generate greater demands on a publicly funded healthcare system. In such cases, patients may have an ‘obligation to know’. However, we cannot infer from the fact that a patient has an obligation to know that she does not also have a right not to know. The right not to know is held against medical professionals at a formal institutional level. We have reason to protect patients’ control over the information that they receive, even if in individual instances patients exercise this control in ways that violate obligations.

Analytics

Added to PP
2020-04-30

Downloads
97 (#123,695)

6 months
12 (#63,835)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Ben Davies
Oxford University

Similar books and articles

The Morality of Refusing to Treat HIV‐Positive Patients.Mitchell Silver - 1989 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 6 (2):149-158.
Must Doctors Save Their Patients?J. Harris - 1983 - Journal of Medical Ethics 9 (4):211-218.
Why Patients Have a Moral Obligation to Give Care to Clinicians.Stephen Buetow - 2014 - Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 20 (6):890-895.
Are Doctors Altruistic?W. Glannon - 2002 - Journal of Medical Ethics 28 (2):68-69.
The Duty of the Patient to Cooperate.Jörg Löschke - 2017 - Jahrbuch für Wissenschaft Und Ethik 21 (1):7-26.
Patients' Ethical Obligation for Their Health.R. C. Sider & C. D. Clements - 1984 - Journal of Medical Ethics 10 (3):138-142.
Mandatory Disclosure and Medical Paternalism.Emma Bullock - 2016 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 19 (2):409-424.
The Nurse Under Physician Authority.T. May - 1993 - Journal of Medical Ethics 19 (4):223-229.
On the Supposed Incoherence of Obligations to Oneself.Janis David Schaab - 2021 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 99 (1):175-189.