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Is the right not to know an instance of ‘bad faith’?
  1. Aisha Deslandes
  1. Houston, Texas, USA
  1. Correspondence to Aisha Deslandes, Houston, TX, USA; aishadeslandes{at}

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The ‘right not to know’ (RNTK) can be used by patients as a safeguard against the effects that certain medical information can have on their well-being. At first glance, one might reason it suitable for a patient to enact their RNTK. However, although Davies states that RNTK gives people the ability to both protect themselves from self-perceived harm and exercise their autonomy, I will argue that ‘not knowing’ hinders patients’ ability to exercise their existential freedom and represents what Sartre calls an instance of ‘bad faith’.

Davies argues that the RNTK takes precedence over many related issues and objections associated with a patient’s decision to implement such a resolution.1 Fundamentally, the RNTK gives patients power to protect themselves from subjective harm and to exercise their autonomy. In most cases, objectors of RNTK cite the negative impact on the patient’s state of health, which affects not only the patient but also those persons who would also be negatively affected by patient health outcomes. For the majority of objectors, patients have moral obligations to lessen the degree of burden on others, which refusal can initiate. However, Davies concludes, ‘…the burden placed on others is not sufficiently significant …

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  • 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.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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