lecture 5 - Bioethics State Paternalism I General...

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Bioethics State Paternalism I. General Definition The word paternalism comes from the Latin word pater , meaning “father”. So, paternalism can be defined as the principle of acting in a way like that of a father to his children (OED, (1893)). For our purposes, we will take paternalism to mean acting in a way that is believed to protect or advance the interest of a person, although acting in this way violates that person’s autonomy . II. 2 Versions of Paternalism (Munson p. 44 ) 1. Weak Paternalism – An action taken to prevent a person from harming him/herself (e.g., commit alcoholics to rehab in order to prevent them from harming themselves) 2. Strong Paternalism – An action taken to promote the good of a person in a positive way (e.g. providing a patient with a placebo and withholding this information from the patient such that it is beneficial to curing his/her illness) III. Two Types of Paternalism (pp. 390-393) 1. State Paternalism – control exerted by a legislature, agency or other governmental body, over particular practices or procedures by means of laws, licensing requirements, technical specifications, and operational guidelines and regulations. Examples: Laws restricting the autonomy of pregnant women in order to protect their young, primarily in cases where the women in question are drug abusers General federal regulations on medical practice (requiring physicians to be certified and licensed to practice medicine) and drug distribution (FDA regulations) Laws requiring people with spiritual healing beliefs, such as Christian Scientists, to seek medical attention for their children 2. Personal Paternalism – an individual deciding on the basis of his/her moral values and beliefs, what is best for another person, thereby violating that individual’s right to make a genuine and effective choice (autonomy). Examples: A physician decides to give a Jehovah’s Witness a life-saving blood transfusion against his/her will A physician provides the child of a Christian Scientist with medical treatment IV. Gerald Dworkin, “Paternalism” (19--) Dworkin’s essay begins with the following question: “When is paternalism justified?” His primary goal is to argue that while state paternalism requires a strong justification, in cases in which paternalistic measures can be demonstrated to preserve or enhance the future freedom of an individual (autonomy), such measures are justified. Dworkin begins by defining paternalism and differentiating cases of “pure” from “impure” paternalism. Then he considers John Stuart Mill’s (1806-1873) argument against paternalism as well as Mill’s two exceptions to this argument. Dworkin then uses these two exceptions as a basis for his own position. A.
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This note was uploaded on 06/15/2011 for the course PHL 116 taught by Professor Sullivan during the Fall '09 term at University of Alabama at Birmingham.

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lecture 5 - Bioethics State Paternalism I General...

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