The care perspective and autonomy

Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 4 (3):289-294 (2001)
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Abstract

In this article I wish to show how care ethics puts forward a fundamental critique on the ideal of independency in human life without thereby discounting autonomy as a moral value altogether. In care ethics, a relational account of autonomy is developed instead. Because care ethics is sometimes criticized in the literature as hopelessly vague and ambiguous, I shall begin by elaborating on how care ethics and its place in ethical theory can be understood. I shall stipulate a definition of care ethics as a moral perspective or orientation from which ethical theorizing can take place. This will mean that care ethics is more a stance from which we can theorize ethically, than ready-made theory in itself. In conceiving care ethics in this way, it becomes possible to make clear that, for instance, a moral concept of autonomy is not abandoned, but instead is given a particular place and interpretation. In the final part of this article I will show how ‘relational autonomy’ can be applied fruitfully in the practice of psychiatric care

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