Public reason in justifications of conscientious objection in health care

Doug McConnell, Robert F Card


Current mainstream approaches to conscientious objection either uphold the standards of public health care by preventing objections or protect the consciences of health‐care professionals by accommodating objections. Public justification approaches are a compromise position that accommodate conscientious objections only when objectors can publicly justify the grounds of their objections. Public justification approaches require objectors and assessors to speak a common normative language and to this end it has been suggested that objectors should be required to cast their objection in terms of public reason. We provide critical support for such a public reason condition and argue that it would be neither too demanding nor too permissive. We also respond to objections that it unfairly favours secular over religious objectors and that public reasons cannot be held with the kind of sincerity thought to characterize conscientious objections.

McConnell D, Card RF. Public reason in justifications of conscientious objection in health care. Bioethics 2019 Jun;33(5):625-632. doi: 10.1111/bioe.12573

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