Negative Critique on Alan Goldman's View on Medical Paternalism

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Medical Paternalism In the realm of medical ethics, there are many topics that are debated and discussed, but there is not necessarily one clear, correct answer. One of these topics is paternalism. Many questions are bandied back and forth: is it beneficial, should it be disallowed entirely, are there instances when paternalism is good and beneficial, and the list goes on. For each of these questions there have been authors who have provided their comments. One such author is Alan Goldman. He draws a very firm line on paternalism, simply put: medical paternalism is deleterious to a patient because it intrudes on their primary rights of liberty and autonomy. This paper is going to expound upon Goldman’s viewpoint in detail, going through …show more content…
He then breaks his argument down into several smaller sections. For starters, he outlines what he believes to be the common argument made by those who are in favor of medical paternalism. He presents five points that encompass that viewpoint.
First, disclosure of information to the patient will sometimes increase the likelihood of depression and physical deterioration, or result in the choice of medically inoptimal treatment. Second, disclosure of information is therefore sometimes likely to be detrimental to the patient’s health, and perhaps hasten his death. Third, health and prolonged life can be assumed to have priority among preferences for patients who place themselves under physicians’ care. Fourth, Worsening health or hastening death can therefore be assumed to be contrary to patients’ own true value orderings. Lastly, paternalism is therefore justified: doctor may sometimes override patients’ prima facie rights to information about their risks and treatments or about their own conditions in order to prevent harm (Vaughn, 96.) Goldman then goes on to tackle just one of those points, with his argument being if one point in the opposing argument can be discredited, then the whole argument falls apart. The point that he believes to be wrong is the third point: it can be presumed that a patient’s health and well-being carry more weight than other aspects of their life. Goldman presents several reasons why he believes the third point to be
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