Practical Philosophy Webinar: Johan Vorland Wibye
Johan Vorland Wibye
Title: "The Liberty to Attempt Referral as Right to Conscientious Objection"
Johan Vorland Wibye, Postdoctoral fellow, PluriCourts
Johan is a postdoctoral fellow at PluriCourts, working on applied rights theory as a means of clarifying and evaluating claims about graded legitimacy standards for international courts. He also has research interests in legal theory, practical ethics, administrative law, legal methods, and constitutional law.
Abstract: Currently, scholarship about the permissibility of conscientious objection (CO) in health care does not systematically account for the standing of liberties to attempt referral of patients which lack a companion claim that the request be accommodated. Failure to recognise the inherent significance of such liberties, masks normatively significant distinctions between policy options. For the right-holder, the liberty’s value lies in the ability to attempt referral without violating a duty, even when the referral may be accommodated for reasons not ostensibly related to conscience, and even when the outcome of the attempt is uncertain. For those who are accommodated, the liberty translates into the tangible benefit of not having to act against one’s conscience. Furthermore, granting mere liberties to healthcare workers produces functionally similar results as versions of a right to CO that are conditional on the individual motivations of healthcare workers, such as genuineness or reasonableness standards. In order to adequately specify the content of the rights they are advocating or opposing, participants in the moral debate on CO should thus clarify their stance on liberties to attempt referral. If liberties to attempt referral are not rights to CO, then any jurisdiction requiring individual assessment of objectors risks being classified as not granting such a right. Conversely, if liberties to attempt referral are rights to CO, some jurisdictions not formally considered to recognise conscience-based refusals, such as Norway and Sweden, should be considered as granting such a right, albeit in a severely limited form.
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