Autonomy, Rationality, and Contemporary Bioethics

Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press (2020)
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Abstract

Personal autonomy is often lauded as a key value in contemporary Western bioethics. Though the claim that there is an important relationship between autonomy and rationality is often treated as uncontroversial in this sphere, there is also considerable disagreement about how we should cash out the relationship. In particular, it is unclear whether a rationalist view of autonomy can be compatible with legal judgments that enshrine a patient's right to refuse medical treatment, regardless of whether the reasons underpinning the choice are known and rational, or indeed whether they even exist. Jonathan Pugh brings recent philosophical work on the nature of rationality to bear on the question of how we should understand personal autonomy in contemporary bioethics. In doing so, he develops a new framework for thinking about the concept of autonomy, one that is grounded in an understanding of the different roles that rational beliefs and rational desires have to play in it. Pugh's account allows for a deeper understanding of d the relationship between our freedom to act and our capacity to decide autonomously. His rationalist perspective is contrasted with other prominent accounts of autonomy in bioethics, and the revisionary implications it has for practical questions in biomedicine are also outlined.

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Jonathan Pugh
Oxford University

References found in this work

Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person.Harry Frankfurt - 1971 - Journal of Philosophy 68 (1):5-20.
Alternate Possibilities and Moral Responsibility.Harry Frankfurt - 1969 - Journal of Philosophy 66 (23):829.
Free Agency.Gary Watson - 1975 - Journal of Philosophy 72 (April):205-20.
The Possibility of Practical Reason.David Velleman - 2000 - Oxford University Press.

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