Indeterminacy and the normative basis of the harm threshold for overriding parental decisions: a response to Birchley

Journal of Medical Ethics 42 (2):119-120 (2016)
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Abstract

Birchley9s critique of the harm threshold for overriding parental decisions is successful in demonstrating that the harm threshold, like the best interests standard, suffers from the problem of indeterminacy. However, his focus on critiquing empirical rather than normative arguments for the harm threshold means that his broad conclusion that it is ‘ill-judged’ is not justified. Advocates of the harm threshold can accept that the concept of harm to a child is indeterminate, yet still invoke strong normative arguments for this way of responding to parental decisions that conflict with medical recommendations. I suggest that Birchley9s discussion, rather than showing that the harm threshold is mistaken, instead highlights the importance of developing a comprehensive account of children9s interests, for proponents of a best interests approach and for advocates of the harm threshold.

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References found in this work

Principles of biomedical ethics.Tom L. Beauchamp - 1979 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by James F. Childress.
The moral limits of the criminal law.Joel Feinberg - 1984 - New York: Oxford University Press.
On the Minimal Risk Threshold in Research With Children.Ariella Binik - 2014 - American Journal of Bioethics 14 (9):3-12.

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