Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 20 (4):371-390 (2010)

There is a significant omission in the whole endeavor of moral analysis as commonly used in bioethics. Whether the analysis is based on a set of moral principles grounded in common morality, on a deontological or a consequentialist theory, or on other considerations, the focus has been to assist moral agents in making ethically appropriate decisions. Little or no attention has been paid to the issue of who the appropriate moral agent or decision maker is in any given situation. Yet, how to make a decision and who should make that decision are equally important, albeit separate, issues. The principle of respect for autonomy, which favors self-determination of the patient or the surrogate, generally is invoked when ..
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