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Biomedical ethics term paper

Biomedical ethics term paper



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Published by Florine Cleary

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Published by: Florine Cleary on Jan 31, 2007
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Biomedical ethics Florine ClearyFinal paper Paternalism in medicineWhen one turns to medicine (as a layperson) the reason for doing so generallyfalls under two categories either one feels something is wrong or one just wants to check that all is well or both. Essentially it is to seek help from those who are better able todiscover the truth about, and if all is not well a remedy for, our physical condition. Givenhow important and somewhat mysterious our bodies are to ourselves our attitude will befar different in seeking medical advice than it would be in seeking (say) a mechanic’sadvice.We submit to a medical professional’s superior knowledge of our biological selvesat least in so far as we recognize that they are the proper people to turn to for either of thereasons I mentioned. For this reason alone those in the medical profession have to abide by a higher standard of interaction with their fellow man (as regards that man’s health).They are in a place of greater power and responsibility than most and since we place suchtrust in them they are morally obliged to be worthy of that trust to a greater extent. Thisincludes recognizing that we are rational agents and the best judges of our own goodthough we may not posses their knowledge – accordingly they should make every effortto preserve and facilitate our autonomy by imparting what knowledge is relevant to our decision-making about our own lives. Since we seek not just knowledge but action toremedy and preserve our ability to live life what skills and tools medicine can reasonably provide is the proper execution of the role of medical professionals (once we haveengaged them). The medical profession should not be in the role of policing our moralsor our actions, nor should their role in bettering our lives involve infringement on our 
ability to live as autonomous individuals. For better or worse we do not ask nor shouldthey be our conscience. That they have knowledge does not mean that they may decidewhat may be done with it.I am not saying that their proper role is without restrictions but rather that it is nottheir place to decide these restrictions in general or in specific cases. Medicine shouldshare its knowledge about issues and advise the government and society so that thedecisions about restrictions and policies may be made in concert with all those will beaffected.I wish to argue in this paper not just against paternalism on the part of  physicians but also against it being practiced in medicine in general. I realize that this iscomplex, as medicine exists to help people live better lives than they could just by virtueof what they know and can do themselves. The science and art of medicine is employedto make life better insofar as health is a requirement for living well, the role of medical professionals is to guide us in preserving our ability to live. It dictates what we should doto guard ourselves from dieses and how to best rehabilitate injury and offers hope whenwe are faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles. It would seemingly be an easymove from medicine knowing what is physically best for an individual physiognomy toknowing what is the best way of living for an individual. From what decisions aremedically advisable to what decisions we ought to make. Health in itself or its particular manifestations should not be confused with living well but looked upon as a facilitatingfactor for living life well. The actions which best preserve our life when in conflict with
some essential and/or highly valued feature of how we chose to live our individual lifemay not be the best action for us to take. Life as a vegetable is not generally considered adesirable life and if the only way to preserve one’s ability to go on living was to submit toa surgery with a high risk of permanent quadriplegia an individual ought to be able tochoose to almost certainly cease living just as they ought to be able to chouse to take therisk. Some aspects about what makes life worth living can be assumed as well as some of the risks or actualities which generally make it unbearable but “assumed” does not meanstatic or always true. An individual might be perfectly happy in an existence so long asthey were not in great pain and could read, listen to music, see images and contemplateall day everyday. Another individual would want to risk a very high likelihood of death toremain highly mobile as long as they could and consider a primarily static life not worthliving. An individual might choose to put everything in the outcome of a newexperimental treatment or refuse treatment to satisfy a belief that they ought to put their fate in their higher power’s hands solely. Medicine should not presume to know whatwould be best on the whole for people. Medicine also should not limit itself to technologyand research that are difficult to abuse at the cost of potentially highly beneficialtechniques and findings. Medicine itself should not have to limit its discoveries to thingswhich people are unlikely to use for immoral or even unjust purposes. Medicine shouldmake every effort that in its progress it does nothing unjust, and nothing immoral withoutoutweighing good cause, but what is done with its discoveries is not its job to concernitself with until it is told to and how to by society through the government (if the progresswas made in good faith and to help promote health).

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