Choosing Life, Choosing Death: The Tyranny of Autonomy in by Charles Foster

By Charles Foster

Autonomy is an important precept in scientific legislations and ethics which occupies a favourite position in all medico-legal and moral debate. yet there's a risky presumption that it may have the one vote, or at the least the casting vote. This publication is an attack on that presumption, and an audit of autonomy's impressive prestige. identifying lifestyles, making a choice on demise surveys the most concerns in clinical legislations, noting, relating to each one factor, the facility wielded via autonomy, asking even if that strength may be justified, and suggesting how different rules can and will give a contribution to the legislation. The book's constitution is largely chronological. It starts off ahead of beginning - with questions with regards to reproductive know-how and the possession of gametes - and ends after loss of life - with the problems on the subject of the possession of physique elements. at the manner, it offers with the prestige of the early embryo and the fetus, the legislation of abortion, confidentiality, consent, scientific litigation, scientific study, and end-of-life decision-making. picking lifestyles, selecting loss of life concludes that autonomy's prestige can't be intellectually or ethically justified, and that confident discrimination in want of the opposite balancing ideas is urgently wanted on the way to stay away from a few sinister effects. There are few books which take a pro-life and anti-autonomy stance. it is a debatable topic that may impress debate between students, judges, and practitioners. Authored by means of Charles Foster, a extensively revered pupil who has written generally during this sector, picking existence, deciding upon loss of life is a fascinating, realized, and thought-provoking dialogue of the issues vital to the courts' method of moral concerns in clinical legislation.

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The law in this area, at least in theory, is stoutly supportive of doctors. The ethical roots of that support seem to be autonomy itself, professional integrity in the literal sense, and some sort of virtue ethic. But there is a wide and widening gulf between law and practice. It is notoriously hard for doctors who say that they will not perform abortions to obtain training 6 See n 3 above, at 2472. ’ Elsewhere he comments: ‘The emergence of autonomy as a sociopolitical, legal, and moral concept has profoundly influenced medical ethics.

Society’s? Those of other patients whose treatment might have been funded by the money spent on the treatment? The hospital accountants’? Similar questions might be asked about the definition and the appropriate definer of the countervailing good. Some of the answers may be provided by the final principle, justice. Justice Justice takes a long, societal view of medico-legal problems. It is rather better than non-maleficence and beneficence, and much better than autonomy, at remembering that there is more than one patient in a hospital, and that in a world of finite resources one patient’s treatment is another patient’s denial of treatment.

There are no . . ’: ‘Unanswered Questions: Bioethics and Human Relationships’ Hastings Center Report Vol 37, No 5, September–October 2007, 20–23, 21, 22. 28 For a robust counter-attack by autonomy against these allegations, see May T (2005) ‘The Concept of Autonomy in Bioethics: an Unwarranted Fall From Grace’ in Taylor JS (ed) Personal Autonomy: New Essays on Personal Autonomy and its Role in Contemporary Moral Philosophy (Cambridge, CUP), 299–309. 29 See Herring J (2006) Medical Law and Ethics (Oxford, OUP) 125.

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