The Limits of Medical Paternalism

The Limits of Medical Paternalism

The Limits of Medical Paternalism

The Limits of Medical Paternalism

Synopsis

The Limits of Medical Paternalism defines and morally assesses paternalistic interventions, especially in the context of modern medicine and health care, particular emphasis is given to the analysis of the conceptual background of the paternalism issue. In this book an anti-paternalistic view is presented and defended.

Excerpt

Whilst studying the problems of medical ethics after completing my ma thesis on the morality of euthanasia, in 1984, the fact gradually began to dawn on me that paternalism, or control over people’s lives, allegedly in their own best interest, is the common denominator of many ethical dilemmas and pseudo-dilemmas in today’s medicine and health care. There were several happy coincidences which contributed to this realization. First, in the spring of 1986 I received with the help of Professor Timo Airaksinen a generous three-year grant from the Emil Aaltonen Foundation to prepare a book on ‘The coercive and non-coercive modes of social interaction’. I had applied for several other scholarships and posts at the same time, and my research plans varied from social philosophy to the history of European aesthetics. That I turned my attention to the questions of coercion and constraint at all was, at that point, a matter of chance. Second, in May 1986 I attended an ivr Special Nordic Conference in Reykjavik, Iceland. For that conference, I had earlier prepared a paper entitled ‘Voluntary euthanasia and medical paternalism’, which now connected my fresh research interest with the previous preoccupation I had had with medical ethics. and third, a book which I had co-authored with Matti Häyry on the moral issues related to abortion and euthanasia was published during the same summer. the public debate following the release of the book amply showed that the majority of medical professionals in Finland

* the paper has been published in Finnish as ‘Tahdonalainen eutanasia ja lääkärin paternalismi’ (1989) Ajatus 45:154-66. It is also forthcoming in English in Praxiology (Warsaw: Polish Academy of Sciences).

Rakasta kärsi ja unhoita: Moraalifilosofisia pohdintoja ihmiselämän alusta ja lopusta, first edition, Reports from the Department of Philosophy, University of Helsinki Nr. 2/1986, second revised edition, Helsinki: Kirjayhtymä, 1987.

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