Journal of Medical Ethics:medethics-2020-106067 (forthcoming)

Tom Walker
Queen's University, Belfast
Accounts of the value of patient choice in contemporary medical ethics typically focus on the act of choosing. Being the one to choose, it is argued, can be valuable either because it enables one to bring about desired outcomes, or because it is a way of enacting one’s autonomy. This paper argues that all such accounts miss something important. In some circumstances, it is having the opportunity to choose, not the act of choosing, that is valuable. That is because in many situations whether one has, or is denied, that opportunity conveys how one is seen. In particular, it conveys whether or not one is seen as an equal and competent member of society. Adequately recognising this fact has implications for what healthcare professionals should do, ones that require a move away from the current focus on autonomy. The paper draws out these implications by focusing on patients who may struggle to be recognised as competent and equal members of society, and whose autonomy may thus itself sometimes be in question.
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DOI 10.1136/medethics-2020-106067
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References found in this work BETA

Forced to Be Free? Increasing Patient Autonomy by Constraining It.Neil Levy - 2014 - Journal of Medical Ethics 40 (5):293-300.
Some Limits of Informed Consent.O. O'Neill - 2003 - Journal of Medical Ethics 29 (1):4-7.
Is Respect for Autonomy Defensible?James Wilson - 2007 - Journal of Medical Ethics 33 (6):353-356.
The Possibility of Consent.David Owens - 2011 - Ratio 24 (4):402-421.

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