Comparativism and the Grounds for Person-Centered Care and Shared Decision Making

Anders Herlitz, The Journal of Clinical Ethics 28, no. 4 (Winter 2017): 269-78.

This article provides a new argument and a new value-theoretical ground for person-centered care and shared decision making that ascribes to it the role of enabling rational choice in situations involving clinical choice. Rather than referring to good health outcomes and/or ethical grounds such as patient autonomy, it argues that a plausible justification and ground for person-centered care and shared decision making is preservation of rationality in the face of comparative non-determinacy in clinical settings. Often, no alternative treatment will be better than or equal to every other alternative. In the face of such comparative non-determinacy, Ruth Chang has argued that we can make rational decisions by invoking reasons that are created through acts of willing. This article transfers this view to clinical decision making and argues that shared decision making provides a solution to non-determinacy problems in clinical settings. This view of the role of shared decision making provides a new understanding of its nature, and it also allows us to better understand when caregivers should engage in shared decision making and when they should not.

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