Respect for autonomy: deciding what is good for oneself

Journal of Medical Ethics 42 (12):769-775 (2016)
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Abstract

Paternalistic interference in autonomous decisions is typically impermissible. This has several explanations, among which is a view I call theagent-constitution of the good: that the autonomous agent not onlyknowswhat is best for herself, butdetermineswhat is best for herself through her desires, goals and so on (heraims). For instance, it might seem that if an autonomous person does choose not to take insulin for her diabetes, then not only is it inappropriate to force treatment upon her, it is also not in her best interest to take insulin. Here I argue that agent-constitution, though appealing, is false. In fact, autonomous agents can be mistaken about their good, even when it seems to depend only upon their aims. Agent-constitution appears true only because we typically fail to notice constraints on a person's good in private, self-regarding decisions where paternalism might be considered.

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Brent Kious
University of Utah

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References found in this work

Freedom of the will and the concept of a person.Harry G. Frankfurt - 1971 - Journal of Philosophy 68 (1):5-20.
The Morality of Freedom.Joseph Raz - 1986 - Philosophy 63 (243):119-122.
The Sources of Normativity.Christine Korsgaard - 1999 - Philosophical Quarterly 49 (196):384-394.
Objectivity and Truth: You’d Better Believe it.Ronald Dworkin - 1996 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 25 (2):87-139.
Preference and urgency.T. M. Scanlon - 1975 - Journal of Philosophy 72 (19):655-669.

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