The Porosity of Autonomy: Social and Biological Constitution of the Patient in Biomedicine

American Journal of Bioethics 16 (2):34-45 (2016)
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Abstract

The nature and role of the patient in biomedicine comprise issues central to bioethical inquiry. Given its developmental history grounded firmly in a backlash against 20th-century cases of egregious human subjects abuse, contemporary medical bioethics has come to rely on a fundamental assumption: the unit of care is the autonomous self-directing patient. In this article we examine first the structure of the feminist social critique of autonomy. Then we show that a parallel argument can be made against relational autonomy as well, demonstrating how this second concept of autonomy fails to take sufficiently into account an array of biological determinants, particularly those from microbial biology. Finally, in light of this biological critique, we question whether or to what extent any relevant and meaningful view of autonomy can be recovered in the contemporary landscape of bioethics

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Author Profiles

Jonathan Beever
University of Central Florida
Nicolae Morar
University of Oregon

Citations of this work

Bioethics and the Hypothesis of Extended Health.Nicolae Morar & Joshua August Skorburg - 2018 - Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 28 (3):341-376.
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Toward an Ecological Bioethics.Nicolae Morar & Joshua August Skorburg - 2016 - American Journal of Bioethics 16 (5):35-37.
Does clinical ethics need a Land Ethic?Alistair Wardrope - 2019 - Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 22 (4):531-543.

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References found in this work

Principles of biomedical ethics.Tom L. Beauchamp - 1979 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by James F. Childress.
Group agency: the possibility, design, and status of corporate agents.Christian List & Philip Pettit - 2011 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by Philip Pettit.
The ethics of care: personal, political, and global.Virginia Held - 2006 - New York: Oxford University Press.

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