Informed Consent: Foundations and Applications

Dissertation, Cuny Graduate Center (2021)
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Abstract

Since its advent in the 20th century, informed consent has become a cornerstone of ethical healthcare, and obtaining it a core obligation in medical contexts. In my dissertation, I aim to examine the theoretical underpinnings of informed consent and identify what values it is taken to protect. I will suggest that the fundamental motivation behind informed consent rests in something I’ll call bodily self-sovereignty, which I argue involves a coupling of two groups of values: autonomy and non-domination on the one hand, and self-ownership and personal integrity on the other. I will then go on to consider two 'case studies' I take to shed light on what is at stake in securing informed consent - consent in psychiatrically ill populations, and consent to interventions that involve the modification of the genetic germline.

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Joanna Smolenski
Baylor College of Medicine

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