Matters of medical treatment do not usually need the law to intervene, as it is the patient who has the right to self-determination. However, there are a number of limitations upon the individual's right to self-determination. The right to self-determination does not extend so far as to let individuals behave in a way which harms other people; the right does not let individuals behave in a way which is harmful to society as a whole; and individuals may only exercise the right to self-determination when competent to do so. This article examines these conditions and the ways in which the law deals with them.
Legal Ethics is an international and interdisciplinary journal devoted to the field of legal ethics. The journal provides an intellectual meeting ground for academic lawyers, practitioners and policy-makers to debate developments shaping the ethics of law and its practice at the micro and macro levels. Its focus is broad enough to encompass empirical research on the ethics and conduct of the legal professions and judiciary, studies of legal ethics education and moral development, ethics development in contemporary professional practice, the ethical responsibilities of law schools, professional bodies and government, and jurisprudential or wider philosophical reflections on law as an ethical system and on the moral obligations of individual lawyers.