Mandatory Disclosure and Medical Paternalism

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 19 (2):409-424 (2016)
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Abstract

Medical practitioners are duty-bound to tell their patients the truth about their medical conditions, along with the risks and benefits of proposed treatments. Some patients, however, would rather not receive medical information. A recent response to this tension has been to argue that that the disclosure of medical information is not optional. As such, patients do not have permission to refuse medical information. In this paper I argue that, depending on the context, the disclosure of medical information can undermine the patient’s ability to exercise her autonomy or have therapeutically detrimental effects. In the light of these insights I go on to develop a context-sensitive approach to medical disclosure. The advantage of this account is that it addresses concerns on both sides of the debate; whilst it acknowledges that patients do not have an exercisable ‘right not to know,’ it allows that in some cases medical information ought to be withheld.

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Citations of this work

The Right Not to Know and the Obligation to Know.Ben Davies - 2020 - Journal of Medical Ethics 46 (5):300-303.
What’s Epistemic About Epistemic Paternalism?Elizabeth Jackson - 2022 - In Jonathan Matheson & Kirk Lougheed (eds.), Epistemic Autonomy. New York: Routledge. pp. 132–150.
The Right Not to Know: Some Steps Towards a Compromise.Ben Davies & Julian Savulescu - 2021 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 24 (1):137-150.

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References found in this work

Principles of Biomedical Ethics.Tom L. Beauchamp - 1979 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Rethinking Informed Consent in Bioethics.Neil C. Manson - 2007 - Cambridge University Press.
The Silent World of Doctor and Patient.Jay Katz - 1984 - Johns Hopkins University Press.
Paternalism.Gerald Dworkin - 1972 - The Monist.

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