Chapter

Doctors and Lawyers: Why Can't We All Just Get Along?

in Refusing Care

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2002 | ISBN: 9780226733975
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226733999 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226733999.003.0002
Doctors and Lawyers: Why Can't We All Just Get Along?

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Doctors and lawyers may think they are serving the well-being and autonomy of the patient by taking radically different actions because, in part, they use different concepts of autonomy and they measure well-being in different ways. The doctor employs a robust concept of autonomy that requires many abilities, as well as an authentic choice; he can thereby endorse the choices of the healthier self and focus on that self's long-range autonomy. The lawyer, by contrast, employs a minimalist concept of autonomy, one that maximizes people's freedom, eschews choosing among selves, and values noninterference with the patient's choices. The doctor measures well-being in objective terms—such as the absence of pathology—whereas the lawyer measures it in more subjective terms—such as the patient's self-professed sense of wellbeing. The lawyer more greatly values the benefits of dignity and self-respect than does the doctor, who is willing to sacrifice them to improved functioning. However much the doctor and the lawyer profess to be serving both well-being and autonomy, when push comes to shove, the doctor will favor the former and the lawyer the latter.

Keywords: doctor; lawyer; robust concept; autonomy; objective

Chapter.  5904 words. 

Subjects: Medical and Healthcare Law

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