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The Confucian Personhood and Informed Consent

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Authors
Tsai, Daniel Fu Chang
Issue Date
2004
Publisher
서울대학교 철학사상연구소
Citation
철학사상, Vol.18, pp. 77-110
Keywords
Confucian ethics
Abstract
“Informed consent” has been a core value, even a symbol,
endorsed by modern Western medical ethics in a narrow sense and
bioethics in a broad sense. Respecting the wishes of the patients more
than merely amounting concern for their welfare has become the feature
central to certain modern bioethics theories. Seeing patients as persons,
who are rational, self-conscious beings capable of valuing their own
life hence are entitled the liberty and rights to choose for themselves, is
in general the backbone of the modern bioethical principles and the
ethical rule of informed consent. Nevertheless, whether “informed
consent” is agreeable to an Eastern ethos and can be applied
transculturally have been a focus of debates and an interest of
cross-cultural bioethical dialogue. Since Confucian philosophy has long
been one representative of East-Asia cultural tradition, to examine the concept of informed consent through reflecting upon Confucius’ idea of
personhood may shed some light to the current debates at stake. The
author agues Confucius' concept of persons, which is best interpreted by
his theories of ‘chun-tze’ (the morally ideal person) encapsulating a twodimensional
approach (the ‘autonomous person’ and the ‘relational
person’), provides a more comprehensive model regarding what a
person is and how he should be treated. This two-dimensional approach
sees a person not only as a rational, autonomous agent but also as a
relational, altruistic identity whose self-actualisation involves incessant
participating in and promoting of the welfare of his fellow persons. The
concept of informed consent, being scrutinized under the light of the
Confucian two-dimensional personhood, appears to be bleak, detaching,
and endorsing merely a politically correct procedualism. It suffices to be
a beginning or a minimal requirement of a meaningful physician-patient
interaction, yet a satisfactory and fulfilling one must incorporate the
other-regarding morality of interdependence and altruism which is an
indispensable trait of the Confucian personhood.
ISSN
1226-7007
Language
English
URI
http://hdl.handle.net/10371/11330
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College of Humanities (인문대학)Philosophy (철학과)철학사상철학사상 18호 (2004)
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