Caring, minimal autonomy, and the limits of liberalism

In Hilde Lindemann, Marian Verkerk & Margaret Urban Walker (eds.), Naturalized Bioethics: Toward Responsible Knowing and Practice. Cambridge University Press (2009)

Agnieszka Jaworska
University of California, Riverside
According to Gawande, Lazaroff “chose badly.” Gawande suggests that physicians may be permitted to intervene in choices of this kind. What makes the temptation to intervene paternalistically in this and similar cases especially strong is that the patient’s choice contradicts his professed values. Paternalism appears less problematic in such cases because, in contradicting his values, the patient seems to sidestep his own autonomy. This chapter addresses the dangers of overextending this interpretation. I argue that it is not so easy to judge when a person is not genuinely exercising autonomy, and that choosing contrary to one’s own values does not necessarily amount to sidestepping one’s autonomy. The key insight is to recognize the importance of the attitude of caring as an integral part of some expressions of autonomy. This will allow us to develop an alternative picture of minimal autonomy, according to which it is possible to choose against one’s values while genuinely exercising autonomy. For practical purposes, in medicine and elsewhere, this means that, in cases like Lazaroff’s, those tempted toward paternalism must exercise particular caution before they deem a choice to be disen- gaged from autonomy: even if a choice contradicts the person’s own values, it might be rooted in caring, and then, despite initial appearances to the contrary, it may still command the highest level of protection against paternalism.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Buy the book Find it on
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 62,513
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Autonomy, Rationality, and Contemporary Bioethics.Jonathan Pugh - 2020 - Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Personal Autonomy.Sarah Buss - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Autonomy in Chimpanzees.Tom L. Beauchamp & Victoria Wobber - 2014 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 35 (2):117-132.
Dood op bestelling in het zicht van Alzheimer.Patrick Delaere - 2013 - Algemeen Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Wijsbegeerte 105 (1):1-13.

View all 6 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Forbidden Ways of Life.Ben Colburn - 2008 - Philosophical Quarterly 58 (233):618-629.
Liberal Autonomy.Loren E. Lomasky - 1990 - Philosophy and Theology 4 (3):297-309.
The Moral Limits of Feinberg's Liberalism.Gerald Doppelt - 1993 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 36 (3):255 – 286.
Caring and Internality.Agnieszka Jaworska - 2007 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 74 (3):529-568.


Added to PP index

Total views
36 ( #298,575 of 2,446,439 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #456,608 of 2,446,439 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes