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The Cohen problem of informed consent

Abstract

To avoid potential abuse and respect patient autonomy, physicians have a moral obligation to obtain informed consent before performing any significant medical intervention. To give informed consent, a patient must be competent, understand her condition, options and their expected risks and benefits and must freely and expressly consent to one of those options. Shlomo Cohen challenges this conception of informed consent by constructing cases based on Edmund Gettier’s classic counterexamples to traditional theories of knowledge. In this paper, I argue Cohen-style cases are not genuine threats to the concept of informed consent, however they provide an interesting challenge to theories of conscientious objection.

  • informed consent
  • conscientious objection

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