Ethics & Law : Human Values in Aging Newsletter: Ethics and Autonomy
Posted by Chapster on Jul-02-2003 (3744 reads)

In the most recent Human Values in Aging Newsletter, published by Rick Moody (highly recommended!), he draws into question the vaunted place of autonomy in our ethical heirarchy. Rugged Individualism is such a deeply held value for most Westerners, that we have a hard time imagining a life of value without independence.

Having raised this question, he refers to several resources, which we have included here, and which bear careful consideration. What we learn from these resources is that much more careful thought must be given to a definition for autonomy and to defining the basis for our positions regarding autonomy. If we are to be making major ethical decisions regarding the quality of life that patients experience, then we must understand better what and why autonomy matters. Indeed, autonomy has become the linchpin for much of modern medical ethics. Yet, confusion continues to exist as to the source for our belief in independence.

This is important reading for those who are on the front lines of medical ethics and aging.

Resources:

"The Many Faces of Autonomy," by Susan Dwyer

"Autonomy and Dependency in an Ethic of Care," by Larry Polivka

Wendy Lustbader, COUNTING ON KINDNESS: The Dilemmas of
Dependency

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