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The Ethical Convenience of Non-Neutrality in Medical Encounters: Argumentative Instruments for Healthcare Providers

Maria Grazia Rossi, Daniela Leone, Sarah Bigi


Many scholars have shown the relevance of communication as an instrument of care by arguing that the quality of the doctor-patient relationship – also based on the quality of verbal communication – affects the engagement and outcomes of patients. This understanding of such therapeutic role of communication paves the way to a re-consideration of ethical questions in clinical contexts: if communication is a therapeutic instrument, then healthcare providers need to be able to properly use it. Our main aim in this contribution is to argue that it is possible and desirable to adopt and manage non-neutral communication strategies to safeguard patients’ freedom and autonomy in making decisions. More specifically, we use a pragmatic-argumentative model of verbal communication to deal with the topic of neutrality. Analyzing a case study from the context of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), we underline the highly ethical relevance of this medical context and stress the importance of an appropriate use of argumentative and communicative strategies to protect patients’ values and decisions.


doctor-patient communication; dialogical relevance; non-neutral communication; patient-centered medicine; Assisted Reproductive Technology;

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