Respecting autonomy without disclosing information

Bioethics 27 (7):388-394 (2012)
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Abstract

There is widespread agreement that it would be both morally and legally wrong to treat a competent patient, or to carry out research with a competent participant, without the voluntary consent of that patient or research participant. Furthermore, in medical ethics it is generally taken that that consent must be informed. The most widely given reason for this has been that informed consent is needed to respect the patient’s or research participant’s autonomy. In this article I set out to challenge this claim by considering in detail each of the three most prominent ways in which ‘autonomy’ has been conceptualized in the medical ethics literature. I will argue that whilst these accounts support the claim that consent is needed if the treatment of competent patients, or research on competent individuals, is to respect their autonomy, they do not support the claim that informed consent is needed for this purpose.

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Tom Walker
Queen's University, Belfast

Citations of this work

Getting Obligations Right: Autonomy and Shared Decision Making.Jonathan Lewis - 2020 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 37 (1):118-140.
Reconceptualizing Autonomy for Bioethics.Lisa Dive & Ainsley J. Newson - 2018 - Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 28 (2):171-203.
Permissive consent: a robust reason-changing account.Neil C. Manson - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (12):3317-3334.
Does Shared Decision Making Respect a Patient's Relational Autonomy?Jonathan Lewis - 2019 - Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 25 (6):1063-1069.

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