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J Med Ethics. 2013 Sep;39(9):570-2. doi: 10.1136/medethics-2012-100911. Epub 2013 Apr 30.

Significance of past statements: speech act theory.

Author information

1
Centre for Bioethics and Medical Law, Law School, Bowland North, Lancaster University, Lancaste rLA1 4YN, UK. joanne.gordon.adr@gmail.com

Abstract

In W v M, a judge concluded that M's past statements should not be given weight in a best interests assessment. Several commentators in the ethics literature have argued this approach ignored M's autonomy. In this short article I demonstrate how the basic tenets of speech act theory can be used to challenge the inherent assumption that past statements represent an individual's beliefs, choices or decisions. I conclude that speech act theory, as a conceptual tool, has a valuable contribution to make to this debate.

KEYWORDS:

Autonomy; Care of the Dying Patient; Clinical Ethics; Living Wills/Advance Directives

PMID:
23632009
PMCID:
PMC3756463
DOI:
10.1136/medethics-2012-100911
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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