The Ethics of Benevolent Deception Essay

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A practice commonly used in the medical field, “benevolent deception” is the act of physicians suppressing information about diagnoses in hopes of not causing patients emotional turmoil (Skloot 63). Benevolent deception is a contentious subject because when used, the bioethical principles of respect for autonomy and beneficence can conflict with each other. Respect for autonomy is the act of physicians acknowledging their patients’ abilities to make voluntary decisions on their own regarding their health care, while beneficence is the duty of doctors to help patients and remove harm from them (McCormick 4-5) When giving patients diagnoses, physicians are morally obliged to try to follow these doctrines, which is why some may mistakenly use…show more content…
However, doctors should not prioritize beneficence over respect for autonomy because of the importance of allowing a patient to have free will. According to Roger Higgs, it is considered in modern day society that an individual himself is assumed to be the best judge of his personal interests, and that it is a basic right to be able to make decisions pertaining to one’s own life—a right that “should not be taken away simply on the grounds of illness” (11). Respecting autonomy should be a priority because it preserves a patient’s right to know what is going on with their health and allows him or her to make personal decisions regarding its care. When a physician strictly follows the principle of beneficence instead of respect for autonomy, such as through lying to protect patients from emotional harm, the patients become unaware about the reality of their wellbeing. Without knowledge of the truth, this aforementioned right of freedom to make one’s own decisions is taken away from patients—how can one make a choice about their health when those choices are kept hidden? Overall, free will is a fundamental basic right that everyone is entitled to, not just in a medical context, but life as a whole. Every human being universally deserves to have the freedom to choose how to live their lives and make decisions regarding themselves without the influence of another individual. Unfortunately, the basic human right to free will is
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