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Civic republican medical ethics
  1. Tom O'Shea
  1. Correspondence to Dr Tom O'Shea, Department of Politics, University of York, Derwent College, Heslington, York YO10 5DD, UK; tom.oshea{at}


This article develops a civic republican approach to medical ethics. It outlines civic republican concerns about the domination that arises from subjection to an arbitrary power of interference, while suggesting republican remedies to such domination in healthcare. These include proposals for greater review, challenge and pre-authorisation of medical power. It extends this analysis by providing a civic republican account of assistive arbitrary power, showing how it can create similar problems within both formal and informal relationships of care, and offering strategies for tackling it. Two important objections to civic republican medical ethics—that it overvalues independence and political participation in healthcare—are also considered and rebutted.

  • Philosophical Ethics
  • Political Philosophy
  • Public Policy

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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