Conscientious Refusals without Conscience

Philo 13 (2):167-184 (2010)
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In this paper I uncover and critically analyze a methodological assumption in the literature on conscientious refusals in health care. The assumption is what I call the “Priority of Conscience Principle,” which says the following: to determine the moral status of any act of conscientious refusal, it is first necessary to determine the nature and value of conscience. I argue that it is not always necessary to discuss conscience in the debate on conscientious refusals, and that discussing conscience is even problematic, since it can lead authors to beg the question.

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Michael W. Hickson
Trent University


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