Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 24 (2):159-185 (2014)

Authors
Alberto Giubilini
Università degli Studi di Milano (PhD)
Abstract
Conscientious objection in health care is a form of compromise whereby health care practitioners can refuse to take part in safe, legal, and beneficial medical procedures to which they have a moral opposition (for instance abortion). Arguments in defense of conscientious objection in medicine are usually based on the value of respect for the moral integrity of practitioners. I will show that philosophical arguments in defense of conscientious objection based on respect for such moral integrity are extremely weak and, if taken seriously, lead to consequences that we would not (and should not) accept. I then propose that the best philosophical argument that defenders of conscientious objection in medicine can consistently deploy is one that appeals to (some form of) either moral relativism or subjectivism. I suggest that, unless either moral relativism or subjectivism is a valid theory—which is exactly what many defenders of conscientious objection (as well as many others) do not think—the role of moral integrity and conscientious objection in health care should be significantly downplayed and left out of the range of ethically relevant considerations.
Keywords conscientious objection  conscience  bioethical conflicts  moral relativism  moral subjectivism  respect  tolerance  healthcare ethics  medical ethics  bioethics
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DOI 10.1353/ken.2014.0011
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References found in this work BETA

Political Liberalism.John Rawls - 1993 - Columbia University Press.
Moral Relativism Defended.Gilbert Harman - 1975 - Philosophical Review 84 (1):3-22.

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Citations of this work BETA

The Truth Behind Conscientious Objection in Medicine.Nir Ben-Moshe - 2019 - Journal of Medical Ethics 45 (6):404-410.
Tolerance, Professional Judgment, and the Discretionary Space of the Physician.Daniel P. Sulmasy - 2017 - Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 26 (1):18-31.

View all 22 citations / Add more citations

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When Should Conscientious Objection Be Accepted.Morten Magelssen - 2012 - Journal of Medical Ethics 38 (1):18-21.
Conscience and Conscientious Actions in the Context of MCOs.James F. Childress - 1997 - Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 7 (4):403-411.

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