Duties to Care: Law and Ethics

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)


In 1976, Gwendoline Dobinson and John Stone were convicted of manslaughter. While living in the defendants’ home, Stone's elderly, anorexic sister died as a result of toxaemia and starvation, her body covered with infected bed sores. Affirming their conviction the appeal court concluded that if she had received medical care she would probably have survived. The case of R v Stone and Dobinson [1977] 1 QB 354, extended the law of omissions liability. It remains authoritative and controversial, not least because the defendants themselves were vulnerable, disabled and had learning difficulties. This paper revisits the case and considers: what it tells us about legal duties to care and ethical theories of care; when criminal liability should be imposed for failures to act or care; and whether vulnerable people should be held liable for manslaughter in such circumstances?
Translated title of the contributionDuties to Care: Law and Ethics
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSchool of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol
Publication statusPublished - 4 Nov 2010

Bibliographical note

Name and Venue of Event: Ethics Series 2010
Conference Organiser: CEM


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