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By Charles Foster

Autonomy is an important precept in scientific legislations and ethics which occupies a well-known position in all medico-legal and moral debate. yet there's a risky presumption that it's going to have the single vote, or not less than the casting vote. This ebook is an attack on that presumption, and an audit of autonomy's impressive prestige. opting for lifestyles, picking out demise surveys the most concerns in scientific legislations, noting, when it comes to each one factor, the ability wielded by means of autonomy, asking no matter if that energy may be justified, and suggesting how different ideas can and will give a contribution to the legislations. The book's constitution is greatly chronological. It starts off prior to beginning - with questions on the subject of reproductive expertise and the possession of gametes - and ends after loss of life - with the problems in relation to the possession of physique elements. at the approach, it offers with the prestige of the early embryo and the fetus, the legislation of abortion, confidentiality, consent, clinical litigation, scientific study, and end-of-life decision-making. picking out lifestyles, selecting dying concludes that autonomy's prestige can't be intellectually or ethically justified, and that optimistic discrimination in prefer of the opposite balancing rules is urgently wanted that allows you to keep away from a few sinister effects. There are few books which take a pro-life and anti-autonomy stance. this can be a arguable topic that may galvanize debate between students, judges, and practitioners. Authored by way of Charles Foster, a greatly revered pupil who has written commonly during this quarter, making a choice on lifestyles, determining demise is an interesting, realized, and thought-provoking dialogue of the issues primary to the courts' method of moral matters in scientific legislations.

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Extra info for Choosing Life, Choosing Death: The Tyranny of Autonomy in Medical Ethics and Law

Example text

It is notoriously hard for doctors who say that they will not perform abortions to obtain training 6 See n 3 above, at 2472. ’ Elsewhere he comments: ‘The emergence of autonomy as a sociopolitical, legal, and moral concept has profoundly influenced medical ethics. It has shifted the center of decision-making from the physician to the patient and reoriented the whole physician-patient relationship toward a relationship more open, more honest, and more respectful of the dignity of the person of the patient.

It will not complain if a doctor does no more than stay in bed—as long as he is not in bed with a vulnerable patient. The second is that ‘harm’ is very much in the eye of the beholder. One man’s harm might be another man’s wish. Other principles (notably autonomy and justice) are needed to help in the definition of ‘harm’ adopted for the purpose of satisfying the maxim. Beneficence The pledge to ‘do no harm’ is generally interpreted as meaning that a doctor will not do harm unless it is outweighed by the good consequences of the act that causes harm.

This book calls autonomy to justify its status, subject by subject. But first, having suggested that autonomy should not be the only voice at the table in medical ethics or medico-legal discussions, we need to look at some of the other contenders for a place there. 15 2 Other Contenders for a Voice T HIS CHAPTER SUGGESTS some of the principles other than autonomy that should contribute to medical ethics and medico-legal debates. It is a short and rather trite chapter. The three main principles cited here are cited in all undergraduate textbooks on medical ethics as relevant to medical decision-making.

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