Autonomy in General Internal Medicine and Sport Medicine
Autonomy is the personal ability to make decisions concerning one’s life, and such decision must be free from other interference and personal limitation. Besides, someone acting autonomously may be doing what they wants to do at will, but it must also be on the basis of conscious thought and reasoning. In this article, I will discuss autonomy and paternalism in healthcare by focusing on general internal medicine and sport medicine.
Respect for autonomy is a basic ethical principle in healthcare. This requires health professionals to do their best to preserve and enhance the autonomy of their patients. They must not interfere or constrain the autonomy of their patients, unless the exercise of such autonomy will harm others. Also, to mislead patients is to fail to give them the necessary information required to make autonomous choices. Besides, knowledge is an essential component of autonomy. A patient may have little understanding of the cause and effect of their medical conditions and the treatment they will receive; thus such patient cannot make an autonomous decision. Also, illness can have a disorienting effect on the individual, especially if it has obvious psychological consequences. In that case, patient may have little or no ability to make an autonomous decision.
The Moral Status of Animals
Human beings usually justify their oppression and exploitation of non-human animals by pointing to supposed empirical differences. Few among the claimed differences is that non-human animals lacks certain psychological capacities, soul, and human genome. Therefore, some humans usually treat non-human animals as things without moral significance. In this article, I will discuss the moral significance of animals by elaborating the aforementioned differences.
What is it that really differentiates human beings morally from non-human animals? Most people will respond by citing some set of psychological capacities which human beings possess but non-human animals lack. For instance, human beings are self-conscious, rational, and autonomous. Human beings also have the ability to use language, and they have a moral sense. However, the problem with that response is that there are some human beings who lack or only possess the aforementioned abilities to the same level as certain animals; such as infants, severely mentally impaired persons, and demented persons. Therefore, if the criteria which determines moral status is the possession of higher psychological abilities, then those human beings who lack or possess the same level of psychological abilities as certain animals should possess equal moral status with those animals.