Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 31 (4):417 – 439 (2006)

Robert Streiffer
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Alan Rubel
University of Wisconsin, Madison
We argue that while presidential candidates have the right to medical privacy, the public nature and importance of the presidency generates a moral requirement that candidates waive those rights in certain circumstances. Specifically, candidates are required to disclose information about medical conditions that are likely to seriously undermine their ability to fulfill what we call the "core functions" of the office of the presidency. This requirement exists because (1) people have the right to be governed only with their consent, (2) people's consent is meaningful only when they have access to information necessary for making informed voting decisions, (3) such information is necessary for making informed voting decisions, and (4) there are no countervailing reasons sufficiently strong to override this right. We also investigate alternative mechanisms for legally encouraging or requiring disclosure. Protecting the public's right to this information is of particular importance because of the documented history of deception and secrecy regarding the health of presidents and presidential candidates.
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DOI 10.1080/03605310600860825
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