On the Call for a Feminist Notion of Autonomy in Biomedical Ethics

Dissertation, Mcmaster University (Canada) (1996)


In this thesis I argue that the received view of autonomy is insufficient for both biomedical ethics and feminist theory. I begin with an examination of the received view of autonomy; I then indicate the way in which this view of autonomy has been applied to health care ethics. A feminist relational approach to autonomy is explored: I argue that such an approach has many strengths in that it gives us a more accurate picture of the self-in-relationships and that it recognizes many social and structural conditions that may impede an individual's attempts to be autonomous. ;This feminist relational approach to autonomy, once defined, is applied to the medical/social practices of cosmetic surgery and contract motherhood. I do this to show the practical implications of this contextual approach to autonomy

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Jennifer Parks
Loyola University, Chicago

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