The Principle of "Informed Consent" during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Keywords:新冠病毒, 公共衛生, 知情同意, 自主權, 傷害原則, 儒家家長主義
LANGUAGE NOTE | Document text in Chinese; abstract also in English.
This paper addresses the question of informed consent during the COVID-19 pandemic. Informed consent is “the process in which a competent individual authorizes a course of action based on sufficient relevant information, without coercion or undue inducement” (WHO, 2016). However, informed consent based on disclosure, capacity, and voluntariness has been seriously challenged during the public health crisis we are facing today. How should we resolve the ethical conflict between individual autonomy and individual rights and public health and public good? How should we attain social consensus through “the minimum grammar” of common morality? In this paper, I first introduce the WHO’s “Guidance for Managing Ethical Issues in Infectious Disease Outbreaks” (2016) and its seven basic principles: justice, beneficence, utility, respect for persons, liberty, reciprocity, and solidarity. I then explain how those principles could face challenges in implementation during the pandemic, as there will always be tensions between individual rights, state interference, and health paternalism. Finally, I explore from a Confucian perspective the possibility of seeking the “middle point” between paternalism and individual autonomy, and between civil liberties and public health.
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Copyright (c) 2020 International Journal of Chinese & Comparative Philosophy of Medicine
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