1st Edition

Why Conscience Matters A Defence of Conscientious Objection in Healthcare

By Xavier Symons Copyright 2022
    168 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    168 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The book provides a detailed introduction to a major debate in bioethics, as well as a rigorous account of the role of conscience in professional decision-making.

    Exploring the role of conscience in healthcare practice, this book offers fresh counterpoints to recent calls to ban or severely restrict conscience objection. It provides a detailed philosophical account of the nature and moral import of conscience, and defends a prima facie right to conscientious objection for healthcare professionals. The book also has relevance to broader debates about religious liberty and civil rights, such as debates about the rights and duties of persons and institutions who refuse services to clients on the basis of a religious objection. The book concludes with a discussion of how to regulate individual and institutional conscientious objection, and presents general principles for the accommodation of individual conscientious objectors in the healthcare system.

    This book will be of value to students and scholars in the fields of moral philosophy, bioethics and health law.

    1. Introduction: Conscience Revisited 2. Conscience Under Fire: A Critical Analysis of the Case Against Conscientious Objection in Healthcare 3. A Theory of Conscience Part I: Conscience and the Moral Life 4. A Theory of Conscience Part II: Virtue, Character and Conscientious Objection in Medical Practice 5. Making Space for the Exercise of Conscience in Healthcare 6. The Permissibility of Institutional Conscientious Objection 7. The Role of Conscience in Medical Practice and Professional Life


    Xavier Symons, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Plunket Centre for Ethics, Australian Catholic University and St Vincent’s Health Australia.

    'Symons has made an important contribution to the debate on how to resolve disagreements regarding the provision of morally controversial but legally permissible medical interventions. This book is clear, careful, philosophically sound, insightful, and practical all at once. While it is unlikely to be persuasive to all, no one concerned about these issues will be able to ignore it.'

    Prof. Daniel Sulmasy, Director, Kennedy Institute for Ethics, Georgetown University, United States