Some physicians reject such criticism as intervention by lawyers, philosophers, feminists, and other social critics ignorant of the realities of medical and hospital life. But the “neo-paternalists” admit that physicians should attend more carefully to a patient’s desires and to give them greater weight in arriving at a treatment of choice. Unmollified critics, however, continue to insist that treatment choice belongs to the patient, however imprudent, and not to the physician, however attentive and knowing. To curb Hippocratic paternalism they define a range of patients’ specific rights to be told about, and choose among, alternative treatments, including a right to refuse all, even life-saving treatment.

These rights confer adult status on patients whom paternalists regard as children, replacing quasi-familial with quasi-legal relations. A patient’s “free and informed consent” reflects an implicit therapeutic contract, defined and reviewed as treatment proceeds. A physician who treats without such consent is not a patriarch, but a batterer. Less litigiously, these rights define a “principle of autonomy” traced to Kantian notions of respect for persons and inherent human dignity.

I consulted ODO but none of the three definitions fit? Given this context, a physician would not be striking/thrasing patients, so Definitions 1(.0) and 1.1 clash. Also, the quote above says nothing about what the physician would 'censure, criticize, or defeat', so Definition 1.2 conflicts too.


In the last generation the verb batter and its derivatives have acquired a specific narrow use: it characterizes physical abuse of family members. We speak in particular of wives and girlfriends and children as being battered by a male adopting a classic authoritarian paterfamilias role.

Observe that the author here speaks of physicians adopting a very similar familial role towards their patients, using terms like (neo-)paternalism and patriarch for the physicians and child and children for the patients. The author contrasts this relationship with one which characterizes the patients as autonomous adults.

The author thus employs batter to emphasize the similarity between a physician who imposes treatment on his patients and a father who beats his children and wife: both exploit a position of authority to legitimize physical abuse.

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