The Practice of Autonomy: Patients, Doctors, and Medical Decisions

This is a book written across the grain of contemporary ethics, where the principle of autonomy has triumphed.It is an attempt to see the law of medicine, the principles of bioethics, and the encounter between doctor and patient from the patient’s point of view. While Schneider agrees that many patients now want to make their own medical decisions, and virtually all want to be treated with dignity and solicitude, he argues that most do not want to assume the full burden of decision-making that some bioethicists and lawyers have thrust upon them. What patients want, according to Schneider, is more ambiguous, complicated, and ambivalent than being “empowered.” In this book he tries to chart that ambiguity, to take the autonomy paradigm past current pieties into the uncertain realities of modern medicine.

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