Intention, autonomy, and brain events

Bioethics 23 (6):330-339 (2009)

Abstract

Informed consent is the practical expression of the doctrine of autonomy. But the very idea of autonomy and conscious free choice is undercut by the view that human beings react as their unconscious brain centres dictate, depending on factors that may or may not be under rational control and reflection. This worry is, however, based on a faulty model of human autonomy and consciousness and needs close neurophilosophical scrutiny. A critique of the ethics implied by the model takes us towards a 'care of the self' view of autonomy and the subject's attunement to the truth as the crux of reasoning rather than the inner mental/neural state views of autonomy and human choice on offer at present.

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Grant Gillett
University of Otago

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