The right to ignorance and autonomy (in Polish)

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Olga Dryla


The article explores the problem of whether a person as an autonomous individual has the right not to know about the state of their health. The point of reference is the classic article by John Harris and Kirsty Keywood, “Ignorance, Information and Autonomy”, in which they claim that the alleged right to ignorance is incompatible with autonomy. The author undertakes a critical analysis of the concept of autonomy adopted by these authors, which leads them to conclude (1) that such autonomy cannot be regarded as the supreme value of medical ethics, and (2) that it excludes attempts undertaken by its proponents to ground the right to ignorance in other values. The author argues that a properly formulated the concept of autonomy allows one to conclude that the patient, as an autonomous individual has the right not to know about their health.
Author Biography

Olga Dryla, Jagiellonian University

Olga Dryla, PhD
Institute of Philosophy
Jagiellonian University


Beauchamp, Childress [1996] – Tom L. Beauchamp, James F. Childress, Zasady etyki medycznej, tłum. W. Jałcórzyński, Książka i Wiedza, Warszawa 1996.

Harris, Keywood [2001] – J. Harris, K. Keywood, Ignorance, Information and Autonomy, “Theoretical Medicine” (22) 2001, s. 415-436.

Laurie [1999] – G.T. Laurie, In Defence of Ignorance: Genetic Information and the Right not to Know, “European Journal of Health Law” 6 (1999), s. 119-132.

Rhodes [1998] – R. Rhodes, Genetic Links, Family Ties, and Social Bonds: Rights and Responsibilities in the Face of Genetic Knowledge, “Journal of Medicine and Philosophy”, 23(1) 1998, s. 10-30.

Rhodes [2000] – R. Rhodes, Autonomy, Respect, and Genetic Information Policy: A Reply to Tuija Takala and Matti Häyry, “Journal of Medicine and Philosophy”, 25(1) 2000, s. 114-120.

Takala [1999] – T. Takala, The Right to Genetic Ignorance Confirmed, “Bioethics”, 13(3/4) 1999, s. 289-293.

Takala [2001] – T. Takala, Genetic Ignorance and Reasonable Paternalism, “Theoretical Medicine” (22) 2001, s. 485-491.

Takala, Häyry [2000] – T. Takala, M. Häyry, Genetic Ignorance, Moral Obligation and Social Duties, “Journal of Medicine and Philosophy”, 25 (1) 2000, s. 107-113.

Wilson [2005] – J. Wilson, To Know or not to Know? Genetic Ignorance, Autonomy and Paternalism, “Bioethics” 19(5-6) 2005, s. 493-504.


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How to Cite
DRYLA, O. The right to ignorance and autonomy (in Polish). Diametros, n. 32, p. 19-36, 1 jun. 2012.
Special topic – Bioethics and genetics