How much should we value autonomy?

Social Philosophy and Policy 20 (2):99-126 (2003)


Autonomy generally is a valued condition for persons in liberal cultures such as the United States. We uphold autonomous agents as the exemplar of persons who, by their judgment and action, authenticate the social and political principles and policies that advance their interests. But questions about the value of autonomy are often problematic. They are problematic because they concern the kind of value autonomy has and not just how much value autonomy has when weighed against competing goods. The two questions are frequently conflated. For example, in asking what happens when the putative right to autonomy is tested against competing goods, such as personal contentment or political security, we might overlook the fact that we are comparing goods that are valued for different reasons. My aim in this paper is to explore in a very general way some of the issues surrounding these questions about the value of autonomy. I plan to do so by focusing on the phenomenon of being “blinded” by an inarticulate ideal of the value of autonomy.

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Marina Oshana
University of California, Davis

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Citations of this work

Oppressive Double Binds.Sukaina Hirji - 2021 - Ethics 131 (4):643-669.
Autonomy, Rationality, and Contemporary Bioethics.Jonathan Pugh - 2020 - Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Getting Obligations Right: Autonomy and Shared Decision Making.Jonathan Lewis - 2020 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 37 (1):118-140.
Autonomy and Adaptive Preferences.Ben Colburn - 2011 - Utilitas 23 (1):52-71.
Rethinking Research Ethics.Rosamond Rhodes - 2005 - American Journal of Bioethics 5 (1):7 – 28.

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