The legitimacy of medical law


Montgomery, Jonathan (2006) The legitimacy of medical law. In, McLean, Sheila A.M. (ed.) First do no Harm: Law Ethics and Healthcare. Aldershot, UK, Ashgate, 1-16. (Applied Legal Philosophy).

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Description/Abstract

This chapter explores one of the most difficult questions now facing the practice of medical law – its legitimacy. If it is true both that legal obligations are founded on moral ones and that the moral questions raised are prone to controversy and subjectivity, then how does the law justify its coercive impact on individuals? It is one thing to act to protect individuals against abuse by others (even doctors) who fail to respect their moral choices. However, the law claims the right to go far beyond this. In the case of euthanasia, the law prohibits deliberate killing even where the patients and doctors individually concerned believe that such killing would be morally justified. It assumes the right to dictate to individuals a moral position. In a modern liberal democracy, this presents a major problem of legitimacy. What gives lawmakers, in Parliament or the courts, the right to promote or proscribe a particular course of action in the face of controversy?

Item Type: Book Section
ISBNs: 9780754626145 (hardback)
0754626148 (hardback)
Related URLs:
Keywords: law and morals, legitimacy of medical law
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
K Law > K Law (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
Divisions: University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Law
ePrint ID: 72262
Date Deposited: 04 Feb 2010
Last Modified: 27 Mar 2014 18:51
Publisher: Ashgate
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/72262

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