"The Limits of Medical Paternalism" defines and morally assesses paternalistic interventions, especially in the context of medicine and health care. Although much has been written on the subject of paternalism, its conceptual background has not been properly analyzed. In this book, Heta Hayry addresses this problem by dividing paternalistic interventions into two categories: "strong paternalism" and "weak paternalism." As defined in the book, "strong paternalism" is when a person's autonomy is violated and decisions are made for her "in her own best interest," even though she is capable of making her own decisions. In the author's view "strong paternalism" is unjustifiable. In contrast, "weak paternalism" is when a person is temporarily incapable of self-determined decision-making, and so the violations of her autonomy can sometimes be justified by an appeal to her own good. The application of this view to modern medicine reveals that no overall "a priori" judgement is possible concerning the rights and wrongs of paternalistic medical intervention. It is not always the case that "the doctor knows best," and yet, in some cases patients may not be competent enough to make the best medical decisions. "The Limits of Medical Paternalism" discusses the important manifestations of paternalism in medical practice, the conceptual issues involved, and the utilitarian, moral and rational arguments for intervention in a clear, lively, and provocative style.

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