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The baby MB case: medical decision making in the context of uncertain infant suffering

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  • i I refer to the interest in avoiding pain for its own sake: a “secondary” interest may be derivable from other interests. For instance, if autonomy is impaired by high levels of pain, an autonomy-related interest in avoiding pain may develop.

  • ii Here I argue that the best-interests principle requires us to forgo painful treatments for infants who lack autonomy-based interests. But if high moral status is a function of autonomy (this is highly debatable), infants who lack autonomy-based interests also lack high moral status. If this is the case, one might question the application of the best-interests principle to these infants, as this standard presupposes the high moral status of the subject. I cannot explore the implications of this line of argument here.

  • Competing interests: None.

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