Questions to ponder on abdication

  1. Who are you and what responsibility have you shirked recently?
  2. I contend medical “authority” is an alloy of “trust” and “reliance”: one either must trusta medical practitioners judgment/decisions/actions because they do not (or cannot) know otherwise or must rely on the abilities of the medical practitioner. (One could of course both trust and rely on a medical practice.) Are there any other features that are necessary/sufficient to define medical authority?
  3. What gives rise to “legitimate authority” in the practice of medicine?
  4. Trust and reliance also factor into “power” over other individuals – defined here broadly as the ability to make others do things (they might not otherwise do). And indeed, medical practitioners may wield a great deal of power in their practice. Some decisions really are “life” and “death”. With great powers come, we are cliche-ly told, with great responsibilities. Reflecting on the Hippocratic oath and its various incantations, what are the responsibilities of a physician and how directly do they tie to the power they wield?
  5. Parent and child relationships introduce a bevy of power-imbalances, from the abilities of the adults to the autonomy of the children, and yet few would regard these relationships as “unjust” due to this inequity. How can “unequal” relationships be morally maintained?
  6. When a parent and a child disagree over medical treatment, how ought their differences of opinion be adjudicated? What about when a child’s and a parent’s thoughts around an “irreversible” medical procedure – like euthanasia or gender confirmation surgery – are diametrically/fundamentally opposed?
  7. Who do you hope to be when you “give up the ghost”?
  8. On average, is it better for medical authority to be single-voiced (as in the recent example of Dr. Anthony Fauci) or decentralized?
  9. On average / on-the-whole / in your Ideal World, would healthcare be more centralized or more decentralized? Should this centralization/de-centralization be instantiated by a government or be independent of a geographic sovereignty?
  10. At state and local level, healthcare access and policy drastically change, often “at the behest” of the local inhabitants via their “democratically” “elected” leaders. Many of these policies run counter to more progressive ethical positions (for example, ready access to reproductive technologies, the banning of certain genders from certain activities). These amplifications of local popular will can manifest in stark inequality. How/Can we ensure that local preferences still abide by global principles?
  11. When do you give up your place on the lifeboat? When do we have the responsibility to make others give up theirs?
  12. When is an individual responsible for an institution? When are they not?
  13. When/Will human beings “give up” on this world?
  14. If this were the final conversation you were to ever have, what would you want to talk about? 
  15. More broadly, what do you think the final human conversation will be about?