On Taylor on autonomy and informed consent

Journal of Value Inquiry 40 (4):451-459 (2006)
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In contemporary medical ethics, it is widely accepted that concern for individual autonomy provides the ethical foundation for the doctrine of informed consent. It is taken that treating a competent patient is morally acceptable only if she has given her informed consent to being treated, because failing to secure the patient’s informed consent to her treatment would violate the patient’s autonomy. In a recent issue of this journal, James Stacey Taylor argues that this conventional view is mistaken. Taylor maintains that a patient lacking information relevant to her medical decisions can be fully autonomous with respect to such decisions, because a person suffers from a diminution in her autonomy with respect to her medical decisions only if she is deliberately kept ignorant or deceived by her healthcare provider. In Taylor’s view, the patient’s autonomy would thus not be compromised if her healthcare provider fails to secure her informed consent to her treatment as a result of negligently omitting to provide relevant information to her. However, since it is intuitively plausible that the healthcare provider is still morally culpable for her negligence, it should, Taylor writes, be taken that the ethical foundation of informed consent is concern for patient wellbeing. While there is reason to be sympathetic to the conclusion that informed consent should be taken to be based on the value of wellbeing, Taylor’s argument does not support that result.



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Value of choice.Tom Walker - 2022 - Journal of Medical Ethics 48 (1):61-64.
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