Conscientious objection in healthcare and professional obligations
Stephen Clarke, Senior Research Fellow in Ethics and Humanities, Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities and Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, University of Oxford
Wednesday, 05 June 2019, 11am to 12.30pm
Ethox and the Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities are based at the Big Data Institute, University of Oxford, Li Ka Shing Centre for Health Information and Discovery, Old Road Campus, Oxford OX3 7FZ. This talk will be held in the Level 1 Ax Meeting Room. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to attend.
Opponents of conscientious objection in healthcare, such as Savulescu, argue that healthcare professionals cannot have a right to conscientiously object to provide professional services, because such a right would be incompatible with their professional obligations. Defenders of conscientious objection in healthcare typically respond to this line of argument by describing the professional obligations of healthcare professionals in a ‘top-down’ manner – making generalizations about the healthcare professions and the ways in which these are organized, and deriving claims about individual professional obligations from these generalizations which are compatible with a right to conscientiously object. I argue that such approaches don’t succeed in grounding individual professional obligations. What we need to do instead is to approach this issue ‘bottom up’. The best way to determine what exactly the professional obligations of healthcare professionals are, and to determine whether or not these are compatible with a right to conscientiously object is to focus our attention on the issue of how individual professional obligations are acquired in the healthcare professions. When we do this we arrive at some surprising results, which I outline.
Access the seminar recording on YouTube or our Centre website:
Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities website