HEC Forum 33 (3):233-245 (2021)

Bryan Pilkington
University of Notre Dame
In this paper, I consider the role of conscience in medical practice. If the conscientious practice of individual practitioners cannot be defended or is incoherent or unreasonable on its own merits, then there is little reason to support conscience protection and to argue about its place in the current medical landscape. If this is the case, conscience protection should be abandoned. To the contrary, I argue that conscience protection should not be abandoned. My argument takes the form of an analysis of an essential feature of the conscience dissenter’s argument, the role of disagreement within “the medical profession.” Conscience dissenters make certain assumptions within their arguments about the profession, disagreements within the professions, and how such disagreement should be adjudicated. If it is the case that these assumptions are accurate reflections of the current medical landscape, then the advocate of conscience protection has one less leg to stand on. I aim to show that this is not the case and that the assumptions of the conscience dissenter are not only mistaken but are mistakes of significant magnitude, so significant as to raise serious questions about the merit of their position. If the argument in this paper is sound, then, at the very least, the conversation over conscience protection in medicine, in particular, and health care, in general, must continue.
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DOI 10.1007/s10730-020-09395-8
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Political Liberalism.J. Rawls - 1995 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 57 (3):596-598.

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