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Law Quadrangle (formerly Law Quad Notes)

Abstract

The following essay is based on a talk delivered last summer in England and on the chapter "Information, Decisions, and the Limits of Informed Consent," in (Michael Freeman and Andrew D. E. Lewis, eds.) Law and Medicine: Current Legal Issues 2000, Volume 3 (Oxford University Press, 2000). This version appears with permission of the publisher.

For many years, a principal labor of bioethics has been to find a way of confiding medical decisions to patients and not to doctors. The foremost mechanism for doing so has been the doctrine of informed consent. Anxious as bioethicists and courts have been to promulgate this doctrine, they have been less anxious to discover how well it works. The bioethical tradition has been far more interested in articulating principle than testing practice.

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