In the case of paternalism, arguments that reject paternalism mostly appeal to the strict importance of autonomy. Autonomy is a persons ability to act according to their own reasons without external intervention, encompassing the idea that each individual is ultimately in the best position to judge what decision they should make (Vaughn 51). This paper will address Goldman's theory of paternalism in regard to deceiving a patient in order to make placebo treatments effective and the objections that follow.
The Hippocratic tradition requires physicians to recognize the best course for patient's overall health and well-being (Vaughn 58). If we suppose that placebos have the potential to have dramatic beneficial effects on patients, but that they work best when the patient is not told of the treatment, we jump in to Goldman's main objection of medical paternalism. Omitting the full disclosure of a treatment to a patient undermines the patient's right to choose which treatment is in his best interest, which is a direct violation of the patient's autonomy (Vaughn 75). Goldman argues that a physician's responsibility to tell the truth is not in avoiding harm to the patient but in honoring the patient's right to do what is morally accurate for them. The platform of informed consent is to honor a patient's right to self-determination (Vaughn 78). Disclosure of a treatment and their risks allows the patient the opportunity to judge his condition and identify which steps are necessary to satisfy their own personal values. Goldman argues for the distinct probability that a physician will not "know the true interests of his patients as well as the patient himself" making it less likely to make the same choices that the patient would make, making the paternalistic decision unjustified (Vaughn 78). .
The omission of information concerning one's medical condition hinders the person's right to self-determination since the individual is not being given the opportunity to decide his course in life.