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Conscientious objection: unmasking the impartial spectator
  1. Toni C Saad
  1. Cardiology Department, University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff
  1. Correspondence to Toni C Saad, Cardiology Department, University Hospital of Wales, Heath Park Way, Cardiff CF14 4XW ; ToniSaad{at}doctors.org.uk

Abstract

Hoping to bring some objectivity to the debate, Ben-Moshe has argued that conscientious objection in medicine should be accommodated based on its concordance with the ‘impartial spectator’, a metaphor for conscience drawn from the writings of Adam Smith. This response finds fault with this account on two fronts: first, that its claim to objectivity is unsubstantiated; second, that it implicitly relies on moral absolutes, despite claiming that conscience is a social construct, thereby calling its coherence and claims into question. Briefly, a traditional account of conscience is then described, before ending with a related thesis for future discussion.

  • conscientious objection
  • abortion
  • philosophical ethics
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Footnotes

  • Contributors TCS is the sole author of this work.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

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

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

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