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Medical Privacy and the Public's Right to Vote: What Presidential Candidates Should Disclose

37 Pages Posted: 2 Apr 2007  

Robert Streiffer

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Department of Philosophy; University of Wisconsin - Madison - School of Medicine and Public Health

Alan Rubel

University of Wisconsin, Madison - Information School; University of Wisconsin, Madison - Program in Legal Studies

Julie R. Fagan

University of Wisconsin - Madison

Abstract

We argue that while presidential candidates have the right to medical privacy, the public nature and importance of the presidency generate a moral requirement that candidates waive those rights in certain circumstances. Specifically, candidates are required to disclose information about medical conditions that are likely to seriously undermine their ability to fulfill what we call the "core functions" of the office of the presidency. This requirement exists because (1) people have the right to be governed only with their consent, (2) people's consent is meaningful only when they have access to information necessary for making informed voting decisions, (3) such information is necessary for making informed voting decisions, and (4) there are no countervailing reasons sufficiently strong to override this right. We also investigate alternative mechanisms for legally encouraging or requiring disclosure. Protecting the public's right to this information is of particular importance because of the documented history of deception and secrecy regarding the health of presidents and presidential candidates.

Keywords: democracy, medical privacy, presidential candidates, right to know, right to vote

Suggested Citation

Streiffer, Robert and Rubel, Alan and Fagan, Julie R., Medical Privacy and the Public's Right to Vote: What Presidential Candidates Should Disclose. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, Vol. 31, No. 4, pp. 417-439, August 2006 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=975031

Robert Streiffer (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Department of Philosophy ( email )

5185 Helen C. White Hall
600 North Park Street
Madison, WI 53706
United States

HOME PAGE: http://philosophy.wisc.edu/streiffer/

University of Wisconsin - Madison - School of Medicine and Public Health ( email )

Madison, WI 53711
United States

Alan P. Rubel

University of Wisconsin, Madison - Information School ( email )

4217 HC WHite
600 N. Park St.
Madison, WI 53706-1481
United States

University of Wisconsin, Madison - Program in Legal Studies ( email )

4217 HC WHite
600 N. Park St.
Madison, WI 53706-1481
United States

Julie R. Fagan

University of Wisconsin - Madison ( email )

716 Langdon Street
Madison, WI 53706-1481
United States

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