Journal article

Withdrawal Aversion and the Equivalence Test

Dominic Wilkinson, Ella Butcherine, Julian Savulescu

The American Journal of Bioethics | ROUTLEDGE JOURNALS, TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD | Published : 2019


If a doctor is trying to decide whether or not to provide a medical treatment, does it matter ethically whether that treatment has already been started? Health professionals sometimes find it harder to stop a treatment (withdraw) than to refrain from starting the treatment (withhold). But does that feeling correspond to an ethical difference? In this article, we defend equivalence-the view that withholding and withdrawal of treatment are ethically equivalent when all other factors are equal. We argue that preference for withholding over withdrawal could represent a form of cognitive bias-withdrawal aversion. Nevertheless, we consider whether there could be circumstances in which there is a m..

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University of Melbourne Researchers