Background: Patient autonomy has been promoted as the most important principle to guide difficult clinical decisions. To examine whether practising physicians indeed value patient autonomy above other considerations, physicians were asked to weight patient autonomy against three other criteria that often influence doctors’ decisions. Associations between physicians’ religious characteristics and their weighting of the criteria were also examined. Methods: Mailed survey in 2007 of a stratified random sample of 1000 US primary care physicians, selected from the American Medical Association masterfile. (...) Physicians were asked how much weight should be given to the following: (1) the patient’s expressed wishes and values, (2) the physician’s own judgment about what is in the patient’s best interest, (3) standards and recommendations from professional medical bodies and (4) moral guidelines from religious traditions. Results: Response rate 51% (446/879). Half of physicians (55%) gave the patient’s expressed wishes and values “the highest possible weight”. In comparative analysis, 40% gave patient wishes more weight than the other three factors, and 13% ranked patient wishes behind some other factor. Religious doctors tended to give less weight to the patient’s expressed wishes. For example, 47% of doctors with high intrinsic religious motivation gave patient wishes the “highest possible weight”, versus 67% of those with low (OR 0.5; 95% CI 0.3 to 0.8). Conclusions: Doctors believe patient wishes and values are important, but other considerations are often equally or more important. This suggests that patient autonomy does not guide physicians’ decisions as much as is often recommended in the ethics literature. (shrink)
Background Regarding controversial medical services, many have argued that if physicians cannot in good conscience provide a legal medical intervention for which a patient is a candidate, they should refer the requesting patient to an accommodating provider. This study examines what US physicians think a doctor is obligated to do when the doctor thinks it would be immoral to provide a referral. Method The authors conducted a cross-sectional survey of a random sample of 2000 US physicians from all specialties. The (...) primary criterion variable was agreement that physicians have a professional obligation to refer patients for all legal medical services for which the patients are candidates, even if the physician believes that such a referral is immoral. Results Of 1895 eligible physicians, 1032 (55%) responded. 57% of physicians agreed that doctors must refer patients regardless of whether or not the doctor believes the referral itself is immoral. Holding this opinion was independently associated with being more theologically pluralistic, describing oneself as sociopolitically liberal, and indicating that respect for patient autonomy is the most important bioethical principle in one's practice (multivariable ORs, 1.6–2.4). Conclusions Physicians are divided about a professional obligation to refer when the physician believes that referral itself is immoral. These data suggest there is no uncontroversial way to resolve conflicts posed when patients request interventions that their physicians cannot in good conscience provide. (shrink)
Hume's is/ought distinction has long limited the role of empirical research in ethics, saying that data about what something is cannot yield conclusions about the way things ought to be. However, interest in empirical research in ethics has been growing despite this countervailing principle. We attribute some of this increased interest to a conceptual breakdown of the is/ought distinction. MacIntyre, in reviewing the history of the is/ought distinction, argues that is and ought are not strictly separate realms but exist in (...) a close relationship that is clarified by adopting a teleological orientation. We propose that, instead of recovering a teleological orientation, society tends to generate its own goals via democratic methods like those described by Rousseau or adopt agnosticism about teleology such as described by Richard Rorty. In both latter scenarios, the distinction between is and ought is obscured, and the role for empirical research grows, but for controversial reasons. MacIntyre warns that the is/ought distinction should remain, but reminds ethicists to make careful arguments about when and why it is legitimate to move from is to ought. (shrink)
Background Although medical ethicists and educators emphasise patient-centred decision-making, previous studies suggest that patients often prefer their doctors to make the clinical decisions. Objective To examine the associations between a preference for physician-directed decision-making and patient health status and sociodemographic characteristics. Methods Sociodemographic and clinical information from all consenting general internal medicine patients at the University of Chicago Medical Center were examined. The primary objectives were to (1) assess the extent to which patients prefer an active role in clinical decision-making, (...) and (2) determine whether religious service attendance, the importance of religion, self-rated spirituality, Charlson Comorbidity Index, self-reported health, Vulnerable Elder Score and several demographic characteristics were associated with these preferences. Results Data were collected from 8308 of 11 620 possible participants. Ninety-seven per cent of respondents wanted doctors to offer them choices and to consider their opinions. However, two out of three (67%) preferred to leave medical decisions to the doctor. In multiple regression analyses, preferring to leave decisions to the doctor was associated with older age (per year, OR=1.019, 95% CI 1.003 to 1.036) and frequently attending religious services (OR=1.5, 95% CI 1.1 to 2.1, compared with never), and it was inversely associated with female sex (OR=0.6, 95% CI 0.5 to 0.8), university education (OR=0.6, 95% CI 0.4 to 0.9, compared with no high school diploma) and poor health (OR=0.6, 95% CI 0.3 to 0.9). Conclusions Almost all patients want doctors to offer them choices and to consider their opinions, but most prefer to leave medical decisions to the doctor. Patients who are male, less educated, more religious and healthier are more likely to want to leave decisions to their doctors, but effects are small. (shrink)
Title: The Soviet Union and the Third WorldPublisher: Praeger Publishers, Inc.ISBN: 0030621496Author: Elizabeth KridlTitle: Soviet-Third World RelationsPublisher: Westview PressISBN: 0865316473Author: Carol R. Saivetz and Sylvia Woodby.
Weatherson argues that whoever accepts classical logic, standard mereology and the difference between vague objects and any others, should conclude that there are no vague objects. Barnes and Williams claim that a supporter of vague objects who accepts classical logic and standard mereology should recognize that the existence of vague objects implies indeterminate identity. Even though it is not clearly stated, they all seem to be committed to the assumption that reality is ultimately constituted by mereological atoms. This assumption is (...) not granted by standard mereology which instead remains silent on whether reality is atomic or gunky; therefore, I contend that whoever maintains classical logic, standard mereology and the difference between vague objects and any others, is not forced to conclude with Weatherson that there are no vague objects; nor is she compelled to revise her point of view according to Barnes and Williams’s proposal and to accept that the existence of vague objects implies indeterminate identity. (shrink)
Religious and Ethical Perspectives on Global Migration examines the complicated social ethics of migration in today's world. Editors Elizabeth W. Collier and Charles R. Strain bring the perspectives of an international group of scholars toward a theory of justice and ethical understanding for the nearly two hundred million migrants who have left their homes seeking asylum from political persecution, greater freedom and safety, economic opportunity, or reunion with family members.
This paper is a philosophical reconstruction of Elizabeth Fox-Genovese's thinking about women and feminism, and an inquiry into whether there is a conservative form of feminism. The paper argues that Fox-Genovese's endorsement of conventional social forms (like traditional marriage, motherhood, and sexual morality) contrasts strongly with feminism's criticism of these forms, and feminism's claim that they should be transformed. The paper concludes, however, that one need not call Fox-Genovese's thought "feminist" to recognize it as serious advocacy on behalf of (...) women and to include it in discussions about what is good for women. (shrink)