Defense Date


Graduation Date

Spring 1-1-2017


Worldwide Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Health Care Ethics


McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Henk ten Have

Committee Member

Gerald Magill

Committee Member

Joris Gielen


Autonomy, Communication, Culture, Information, Liberty, Privacy


The dissertation focuses on answering the question of how can patient’s autonomy, privacy and liberty be safeguarded especially within cultures that do not regard them as primordial principles? In some communities, truth-telling is one of the moral principles unquestioningly inherited from the West. The dissertation will try to compare African and Western perspectives. The African perspective has been chosen to explore through this search hoping that such venture would help in showing how the issue of truth-telling may be approached from such perspective. For instance in the African communalism based on the cardinal point that “I am because we are; and since we are therefore I am.” This point presumes prior recognition of the individuality of those making the “we.” The dissertation hopes that the solution of the above problem can be achieved by applying the gradation approach whereby the physician fulfills the duty of revealing the patient’s health information gradually in accordance with the patient’s ability to cope with such information and also recognizing the time left for the patient to deal with such knowledge. This approach will be great contribution in bioethics in terms of enabling physicians to gradually bridge the gap between patients’ knowledge and understanding of modern medicine and their cultural beliefs and interpretations of disease. The gradation approach will help in striking a balance between these differences and bring about some complementarity in the field of health care.