Informed consent, which is a shorthand for informed, voluntary, and decisionally-capacitated consent, is required across a wide swath of human activities, including employment, medical care, medical research, professional relationships, and so forth. Underlying this requirement is the value placed in liberal societies on allowing for the pursuit of rival conceptions of the good life, thereby respecting the autonomy of individuals to make decisions in matters that concern their own welfare. This project aims to develop a theory of what constitutes undue influence on such decisions - in particular influence exerted through various forms of manipulation - that makes explicit its connections with non-autonomous decision-making. Second, it will attempt to determine what role, if any, "nudges" and other interventions can legitimately play in enhancing decision-making in the health care context. In particular, it focuses on two cases which have been little explored in the literature. First, the use of empowerment strategies in nurse-patient relationships to enhance patients' capacity to make informed decisions. Second, the use of "nudges" to guide or manipulate the health-related life-style choices of socially disadvantaged individuals. It is argued that both cases raise important ethical challenges. Through conceptual analysis of key terms, such as "empowerment" and "autonomy", as well as thorough investigation into the impact of social and cultural constraints on the autonomy of individuals' health-related life-style choices, the project will suggest how best to deal with these challenges. To make the analysis practically relevant, the general findings will be condensed into clarified policy recommendations.
Project leader: Edmund Henden
Institution: Senter for profesjonsstudier