Back to Basics in Bioethics: Reconciling Patient Autonomy with Physician Responsibility



Although bioethics is a lively and expanding interdisciplinary field, there is not enough research about the patient-doctor relationship, a central issue in philosophy of medicine. This article surveys the state of the field, paying attention to recent work by Alfred Tauber, and supplementing it with insights from Hans Jonas's philosophy of technology in order to propose a principle of responsible autonomy for health care. Based on a comparative look across different sub-fields in bioethics, the resulting model claims that physician responsibility is essential to professional integrity, providing an alternative to other active trends emphasizing patient autonomy, such as Robert Veatch's contractual model.