Biomedical Ethics

Alan Goldman’s piece, ‘A Refutation of Medical Paternalism’, includes an argument for why medical paternalism is incorrect.

Goldman argues from the idea of ‘The Relativity of Value.’ Explain this particular argument and reveal how it is an argument versus medical paternalism (be sure to very first specify what medical paternalism is). Do you think this argument is correct? Why or why not?

In biomedical principles, the idea of client autonomy versus is a substantial consideration. This autonomy is often contrasted with what is called medical paternalism.

Medical paternalism describes doctors acting in concerns to what they feel is best for the client without much regard to the patient’s real dreams. It is the intervention of a person’s right of action validated by factors describing the welfare and/or interest of that person. While medical paternalism may be seen as favorable, lots of refute it. In Goldman’s paper, “A Refutation of Medical Paternalism,” he talks about why medical paternalism is incorrect.

Goldman refutes medical paternalism by introducing different arguments that support his case. One aspect of his argument depends on the following claim regarding the relativity of worths: “The essential faulty property in the argument for paternalistic function differentiation for medical professionals is that which assumes that health or extended life must take absolute priority in the client’s value buyings” (67 ). Goldman specifies that in truth, people do not regularly act in order to lessen loss of life although the long-term choice is to live long. If individuals did focus on minimum loss of life continuously, all efforts would be strictly directed towards health-related locations.

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This is not the case, for “to realize or protect those values that provide implying to life is worth the risk of life itself” (68 ). For that reason, Goldman mentions that it is illogical for a medical professional to determine what is best for the client when such physician can not speak for what the client’s set of worths and priorities.

While a doctor believes health is number one in priority, the individual may not always hold health as number one at all times. The second aspect to Goldman’s argument is centered on the value of self-determination. He argues that, as stated before, a doctor cannot truly know the true interests of his patient, and at times, the patient may or may not even know his or her own interests. Because of this uncertainty, the doctor is less likely than the patient to make the right decision. “We value the exercise of free choice itself in personally important decisions, no matter what the effects of those decisions upon other satisfactions” (70). When choices are important to our lives, we like to know we have the ability to have some control over them. When a doctor holds the reigns of a patient’s well being without the patient’s say, it is hard to say that the decision made is fair. I personally concur with Goldman and the arguments he presents. I can see both sides to the argument; I can see why medical paternalism can be beneficial in some cases, but I can see why overall it is a basic intervening of an individual’s autonomy.

In the defense of medical paternalism, one can argue that it is expected of the medical practitioner to do what is best for his or her patient. However, as Goldman states, what does the practitioner know of what is best for a patient? For example, a patient may be in need for a blood transfusion. Yet if the patient happens to be a follower of the Jehovah’s Witness, the physician can’t possibly force the patient to take the transfusion, for it directly goes against the patient’s beliefs. I believe that although doctors may medically have an idea as to what is best for an individual, what is important is for the individual to comply, for it is his or her body that is being affected.

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Biomedical Ethics. (2016, Mar 16). Retrieved from

Biomedical Ethics
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