Patient preference predictors and the problem of naked statistical evidence

Journal of Medical Ethics 44 (12):857-862 (2018)
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Abstract

Patient preference predictors (PPPs) promise to provide medical professionals with a new solution to the problem of making treatment decisions on behalf of incapacitated patients. I show that the use of PPPs faces a version of a normative problem familiar from legal scholarship: the problem of naked statistical evidence. I sketch two sorts of possible reply, vindicating and debunking, and suggest that our reply to the problem in the one domain ought to mirror our reply in the other. The conclusion is thus conditional: if we think the problem of naked statistical evidence is a serious problem in the legal domain, then we should be concerned about the symmetrical problem for PPPs.

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Nathaniel Sharadin
University of Hong Kong