Abstract 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.
Abstract This paper builds upon previous work in which I argue that we should assess a provider’s reasons for his or her objection before granting a conscientious exemption. For instance, if the medical professional’s reasoned basis involves an empirical mistake, an accommodation is not warranted. This article poses and begins to address several deep questions about the workings of what I call a reason-giving view: What standard should we use to assess reasons? What policy should we adopt in order to evaluate the reasons offered by medical practitioners in support of their objections? I argue for a reasonability standard to perform the essential function of assessing reasons, and I offer considerations in support of a policy establishing conscientious objector status in medicine.
Abstract This article first critically reviews the major philosophical positions in the literature on conscientious objection and finds that they possess significant flaws. A substantial number of these problems stem from the fact that these views fail to assess the reasons offered by medical professionals in support of their objections. This observation is used to motivate the reasonability view , one part of which states: A practitioner who lodges a conscientious refusal must publicly state his or her objection as well as the reasoned basis for the objection and have these subjected to critical evaluation before a conscientious exemption can be granted (the reason-giving requirement). It is then argued that when defenders of the other philosophical views attempt to avoid granting an accommodation to spurious objections based on discrimination, empirically mistaken beliefs, or other unjustified biases, they are implicitly committed to the reason-giving requirement. This article concludes that based on these considerations, a reason-giving position such as the reasonability view possesses a decisive advantage in this debate.
Extract Cowley has recently objected to the idea of using a medical tribunal to make determinations regarding conscientious objections and has criticised using reasonability as a standard for any such tribunal. . . . I argue that Cowley’s discussion sells the idea of medical tribunals short and illustrates serious misunderstandings regarding how the reasonability standard should be deployed in practice.
Abstract In this paper I defend the Reasonability View: the position that medical professionals seeking a conscientious exemption must state reasons in support of their objection and allow those reasons to be subject to evaluation. Recently, this view has been criticized by Jason Marsh as proposing a standard that is either too difficult to meet or too easy to satisfy. First, I defend the Reasonability View from this proposed dilemma. Then, I develop this view by presenting and explaining some of the central criteria it uses to assess whether a conscientious objection is proper grounds for extending an exemption to a medical practitioner.
Abstract Some philosophers have argued for what I call the reason-giving requirement for conscientious refusal in reproductive healthcare. According to this requirement, healthcare practitioners who conscientiously object to administering standard forms of treatment must have arguments to back up their conscience, arguments that are purely public in character. I argue that such a requirement, though attractive in some ways, faces an overlooked epistemic problem: it is either too easy or too difficult to satisfy in standard cases. I close by briefly considering whether a version of the reason-giving requirement can be salvaged despite this important difficulty.