Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy

, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 117–125 | Cite as

Autonomy, Wellbeing, and the Case of the Refusing Patient

  • J. Varelius
Scientific Contribution


A moral problem arises when a patient refuses a treatment that would save her life. Should the patient be treated against her will? According to an influential approach to questions of biomedical ethics, certain considerations pertaining to individual autonomy provide a solution to this problem. According to this approach, we should respect the patient’s autonomy and, since she has made an autonomous decision against accepting the treatment, she should not be treated. This article argues against the view that our answer to the question of whether or not the refusing patient ought to be treated should be based on these kinds of considerations pertaining to individual autonomy and maintains that finding a plausible answer to this question presupposes that we resolve questions concerning subjectivity and objectivity of individual wellbeing.


autonomy objective patient subjective value wellbeing 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of TurkuTurkuFinland

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