The New Paternalism
Bioethics. 1988 Apr; 2(2): 103-117.
The author argues that the belief that patient autonomy has great moral value has justified a new form of medical paternalism which can have effects similar to those of the old rejected form. He cites the argument that "all illness represents a state of diminished autonomy" and that therefore autonomy is not overridden when physicians make all decisions. Another view is that, in some situations, withholding information may prevent patient deterioration and loss of autonomy. Abridgement of present autonomy, then, is permissible if it promotes future autonomy. Strasser also rejects physician decision making based on patients' previously communicated values or on the theory that patient values are important but not decisive. He concludes that if we "allow paternalistic practices, then we should admit that we are denying autonomy in light of some other good rather than claim that, somehow, we are respecting autonomy by abridging it." (KIE abstract)