What is the ethical principle of paternalism?
Paternalism is action limiting a person's or group's liberty or autonomy which is intended to promote their own good. Paternalism can also imply that the behavior is against or regardless of the will of a person, or also that the behavior expresses an attitude of superiority.
In a medical context, respect for a patient's personal autonomy is considered one of many fundamental ethical principles in medicine. Autonomy can be defined as the ability of the person to make his or her own decisions.
- It recognizes four basic moral principles, which are to be judged and weighed against each other, with attention given to the scope of their application. The four principles are: Respect for autonomy – the patient has the right to refuse or choose their treatment. (Voluntas aegroti suprema lex.)
- 2. Autonomy or self determination. A respect for patient autonomy is probably the single most talked-about principle or concept in medical ethics. A respect for competent decisions by adult patients is also a cornerstone of medical law.
- Autonomy means a lot more than simply growing up. It's also having the self-confidence to do certain things and become independent, the ability to act and think for yourself.
The principle of respect for autonomy is usually associated with allowing or enabling patients to make their own decisions about which health care interventions they will or will not receive.
- Respect for autonomy is meant to prohibit such interventions because they involve a judgment that the person is not able to decide for herself how best to pursue her own good. Autonomy is the ability to so decide, so for the autonomous subject of such interventions paternalism involves a lack of respect for autonomy.
- Patient autonomy: The right of patients to make decisions about their medical care without their health care provider trying to influence the decision. Patient autonomy does allow for health care providers to educate the patient but does not allow the health care provider to make the decision for the patient.
- Ethics at a Glance. Veracity. Veracity is the principle of truth telling, and it is grounded in respect for persons and the concept of autonomy. In order for a person to make fully rational choices, he or she must have the information relevant to his or her decision.
Updated: 2nd October 2019