Respect for the person as a basis for the ethics of the physician-patient relationship

  • Paola Premoli De Marchi | Dipartimento di Filosofia, Sociologia, Pedagogia e Psicologia Applicata (FISPPA), Università degli Studi di Padova, Italy.


The article aims to reflect on the respect for persons, as the basis of the ethics involved in the physician-patient relationship. The bioethical debate highlighted, over the last fifty years, the importance of respect in the relationships typical to the healthcare professions, but it has been influenced by reductionist notions of respect, which limit it only to respecting the patient’s autonomy, rights or integrity. Through an analysis of respect as a response of the person, on the one hand, and of human dignity as a source of the duty to respect the person, on the other hand, we intend to show, first, that there are many kinds of respect, secondly, that respect for others must be balanced with respect for oneself, and finally, that an authentic respect for persons in the healthcare relationships requires taking into account not only the patient’s dignity but also his vulnerability. We may conclude, then, that respect requires the acquisition of the virtue of reverence, which enables us to grasp the profound values of reality and of others. Respect, therefore, is the threshold of ethics, because it enables us to act with justice towards people.



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Original Articles
respect for persons, human dignity, vulnerability, care relationships, autonomy, integrity, human rights
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How to Cite
Premoli De Marchi, P. (2021). Respect for the person as a basis for the ethics of the physician-patient relationship. Medicina E Morale, 70(1), 91-109.