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J Med Ethics. 2003 Feb;29(1):4-7.

Some limits of informed consent.

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  • Newnham College, Cambridge University, UK.

Abstract

Many accounts of informed consent in medical ethics claim that it is valuable because it supports individual autonomy. Unfortunately there are many distinct conceptions of individual autonomy, and their ethical importance varies. A better reason for taking informed consent seriously is that it provides assurance that patients and others are neither deceived nor coerced. Present debates about the relative importance of generic and specific consent (particularly in the use of human tissues for research and in secondary studies) do not address this issue squarely. Consent is a propositional attitude, so intransitive: complete, wholly specific consent is an illusion. Since the point of consent procedures is to limit deception and coercion, they should be designed to give patients and others control over the amount of information they receive and opportunity to rescind consent already given.

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PMID:
12569185
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC1733683
Free PMC Article
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