Responding (appropriately) to religious patients: a response to Greenblum and Hubbard’s ‘Public Reason’ argument

Journal of Medical Ethics 45 (11):716-717 (2019)
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Abstract

Jake Greenblum and Ryan K Hubbard argue that physicians, nurses, clinical ethicists and ethics committee members should not cite religious considerations when helping patients (or their proxies) make medical decisions. They provide two arguments for this position: The Public Reason Argument and the Fiduciary Argument. In this essay, I show that the Public Reason Argument fails. Greenblum and Hubbard may provide good reason to think that physicians should not invoke their own religious commitments as reasons for a particular medical decision. But they fail to show that it is wrong for physicians to cite the patient’s own religious commitments as reasons for a particular decision. As such, if Greenblum and Hubbard’s thesis is to survive, the Fiduciary Argument (or some unmentioned argument) will have to do the bulk of the work.

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Nicholas Colgrove
Augusta University

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