By Gerald Dworkin

This crucial new booklet develops a brand new suggestion of autonomy. The idea of autonomy has emerged as relevant to modern ethical and political philosophy, quite within the region of utilized ethics. Professor Dworkin examines the character and price of autonomy and used the idea that to investigate a variety of sensible ethical matters equivalent to proxy consent within the scientific context, paternalism, and entrapment by way of cops.

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The Theory and Practice of Autonomy

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2 R. S. Downie, Elizabeth Telfer, "Autonomy," Philosophy 46 (1971), 301. 3 James Rachels, "God and Human Attitudes," Religious Studies 7 (1971), 334. 4 Thomas Scanlon, "A Theory of Freedom of Expression," Philosophy and Public Affairs 1 (Winter 1972), 215. 22 On the other hand, knowing what his mother wants is not sufficient to predict his actions either. We must make reference to his intentions to do what his mother wants. It is his decision, arrived at freely, backed by reasons, that makes his mother's wishes effective in determining his actions.

Acting on this conclusion, he might enter into an agreement subject to periodic review by him, empowering them to shield him from any source of information likely to divert him from their counsel on the matter in question. Such an agreement is not obviously irrational, nor, if entered into voluntarily, for a limited time, and on the basis of the person's own knowledge of himself and those he proposes to trust, does it appear to be inconsistent with his autonomy. 7 But then why does he think that autonomy is inconsistent with accepting a conclusive obligation to obey the law.

Political liberty may be inconsistent (contingently) with other values we hold. For example, being free to use one's talents to make 24 as much money as one can may be incompatible with a certain degree of equality in a society. But it is a contingent fact that the exercise of this liberty may diminish equality. It is not that liberty itself conflicts with equality. The conflict of autonomy, considered as a substantive notion, with other values is not contingent but necessary. There is no possible world in which one could remain both substantively independent and commit oneself to a cause or a person.

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