In “The Refutation of Medical Paternalism”, Goldman makes his case for why paternalism is often incorrect in the medical field, when dealing with patients. In addition, Goldman dives into the various arguments promoting Paternalism, their fundamental roots of understanding, and uses that to extract various counterarguments that disprove said advocations for paternalism in the medical field.
Goldman’s argument against paternalsim starts with the understanding that every individual has their own set of values that are often ranked differently compared to the next person. Not every person will value health over all other “priorities”. Many, as seen in case studies, will value their religious practices over their health, if the two contradict. That said, giving a physician, nurse, or any healthcare delivery professional the right to override their (aware/functioning) patient’s desires-whether disclosed by the patient or not-would be a complete violation of thier autonomy. This leans on the principle explained by Goldman, that in order for a medical professional to make such a decision, they would have to have a full psychological analysis of the patient, and a deep understanding of the patient’s values, which is nowhere near possible to do consistently and efficiently.
That said, Goldman’s passion is expressing the seriousness of not assuming what is best for the patient is a critical part of his argument against paternalism. Goldman suggests that although a medical professional may know what is medically best for a patient, opposing the patient’s wishes would be even more harmful to the patient because, in that moment, the patient knows what’s best for them. However, when patients are suffering and struggling with their illness, Goldman explains that if lying to the patient would help ease some of the patient’s mental suffering, it can be done, but cautiously and when with a thorough psychological evaluation of the patient, while being able to maintain the lie. This could be another method of protecting the interest of the patient since Goldman’s objective is essentially to do that.