Why is (Respect of) Autonomy Important?: Possible Cultural Preconceptions Surrounding the Argument for Autonomy

When discussing biomedical ethics, we frequently favor the right of the patient to decide. This emphasis and respect for autonomy can overrule any number of other considerations. Therefore, I ask the following: Why is (respect of) autonomy important? A typical answer, and likely my own response, would include the importance of the individual’s right to make his/her own decisions. It is an exceedingly important component of any medical decision, and not to be taken lightly. The individual has final say because the body/mind in question is their own.

While reading J. F. Childress’ article “The Place of Autonomy in Bioethics”, I was struck by the potentially confounding factor of socioculturally different views on the importance of autonomy. As a product of American society, I have been raised to believe that the rights and privileges of the individual are paramount. Our culture and, indeed, most of Western thought, is centered on the idea that individuality (and the individual’s conception of that individuality) is to be encouraged. Given the dominance of Western thought in philosophical inquiry, particularly bioethical inquiry, it makes sense that a discussion of bioethics would take into consideration autonomy, the right of the individual to make his/her own decisions.

Free will is another Western presupposition that comes into play when discussing autonomy, the idea that we are the deciders of our own outcomes. Though I do not seek to undermine either of these ideas (free will and the importance of individuality), I think it is important to acknowledge and address the ways in which these ideas shape our dialogue. The reasoning behind the emphasis placed on autonomy is founded in the belief of both free will and individual importance. Should a society, religion, culture, etc. manifest a rejection of either of these principles, autonomy would, in that community, cease to be a worthwhile focus in bioethical conversation.

At the risk of bastardizing, oversimplifying, and/or misrepresenting my argument, I will lay out a general description of what I mean: If we reject the philosophical idea of free will, then our autonomous decisions (whether medical or not) become unimportant – free will is founded in self-determination and without it, predetermination negates the significance of choice. If we reject the sociocultural weight with which we measure individuality, if we cease to believe that the rights of the individual outweigh other considerations, then the value of the individual’s decision is called into question: if the individual is insignificant, why does their opinion and consequent decision matter?

Given that there exist many communities in the world in which one (or both) of these ideas is rejected, I believe reflection on the preconceived significance of free will and individuality under which we discuss autonomy is important to fully understand why our particular society and culture holds autonomy to be important. This type of reflection allows us to transcend our preconceived notions and the potential dangers that arise from not understanding or acknowledging our accepted cultural and philosophical biases.

In short, though I personally believe that a patient’s right to autonomy is exceedingly important, I must acknowledge that a) others- particularly those whose opinions have been shaped by different worldviews – may very well disagree with that opinion,  and b) my reasoning behind that opinion is founded in my own sociocultural and philosophical views on free will and the value of the individual.

Word count: 557

Works Cited:

Childress, James F. “The Place of Autonomy in Bioethics.” Arguing About Bioethics. By Stephen Holland. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis, 2013. Loc 8698-897. Kindle.

79 thoughts on “Why is (Respect of) Autonomy Important?: Possible Cultural Preconceptions Surrounding the Argument for Autonomy

  1. I think you bring up a valid point on the topic of free will and autonomy in your post. It’s definitely true that our medical system and concept of autonomy are shaped by sociocultural factors. As Americans we feel that we are entitled to the right to make our own decisions, which has its roots in our concept of free will. I do not feel that in the case of informed consent and autonomy that a rejection of free will produces the best outcomes in medicine. Such a situation makes it seem as if the doctor knows exactly what is best for each and every patient. The issue here is that every patient is different from another no matter how strongly a patient rejects free will.

  2. While one’s sociocultural background inevitably influences the significance placed on individuality, I believe that the extent to which one values individuality doesn’t necessarily reflect how one views the importance of an autonomous decision. The informed consent doctrine strives to create autonomy for patients. Doctors who practice Western medicine respect and follow the westernized notion of this doctrine. It is the patients’ values that matter in this case. Although some patients grow up with a sociocultural background that emphasizes individuality, there are also those patients who do not. If one’s sociocultural background is dictated by the values of a certain religion, for example, then a patient may be more inclined to value those wholesome aspects over individuality. However, that does not mean that they respect the idea of autonomy any less. Autonomy dictates free will, but free will does not simply rely on the value of individuality. Having free will is having the ability to make decisions for oneself. Regardless of what a patient values, a patient will appreciate being able to make an autonomous decision in order to respect those values. Ultimately, a low value for individuality does not undermine the respect a patient has for making an independent decision in terms of medical practice in order to save other virtues.

  3. Do you have a spam problem on this website; I also am a blogger, and I was curious about your situation; many of us
    have created some nice practices and we are looking to trade techniques with others, be sure to shoot me an email if interested.

    Feel free to surf to my webpage … good wrinkle cream

  4. Have you ever considered publishing an e-book or guest authoring on other sites?
    I have a blog based upon on the same subjects you discuss and would really like
    to have you share some stories/information. I know my visitors would appreciate your work.
    If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to send me an e mail.

    Here is my weblog Best skin Care product

  5. Howdy! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but after browsing
    through some of the post I realized it’s new to me. Anyways, I’m definitely happy I found
    it and I’ll be bookmarking and checking back frequently!

    my blog post: skin care reviews

  6. Hello there! Do you know if they make any plugins to help with SEO?
    I’m trying to get my blog to rank for some targeted keywords but I’m not seeing very good success.
    If you know of any please share. Many thanks!

    Feel free to visit my web blog; acai berry scam

  7. Excellent goods from you, man. I’ve be mindful your
    stuff prior to and you are just extremely fantastic. I actually
    like what you’ve received right here, really like what you’re saying and the best way by which you are saying it.
    You make it entertaining and you still care for to keep it wise.

    I can’t wait to read much more from you. That is really a terrific web

    my blog: skinnies instant lift

  8. The said title is applicable because it is known for its flawless fashion and wonderful style.
    Our lost bags were supposed to come to the first hotel.
    You can find two spas that can offer you therapeutic treatment whether you drink or swim among the

  9. Having read this I thought it was extremely enlightening. I appreciate you
    taking the time and effort to put this informative
    article together. I once again find myself personally spending a lot of time both reading and commenting.
    But so what, it was still worthwhile!

    My web blog Avoir Skin

  10. **To read additional Examiner articles written by Steph Hart, click here or
    visit Essential Elements: Comprehensive College Planning.

    New types of questions now more closely align with the skills
    needed to succeed in today’s demanding graduate and
    business school programs. Another prime benefit of this program is that it helps
    you attain success in much desirable courses, such as TOEFL exam, which is vital in order
    to enroll or work in a US school or firm.

  11. Can I just say what a comfort to discover somebody who genuinely understands what
    they are discussing over the internet. You certainly know
    how to bring an issue to light and make it important.
    A lot more people have to check this out and understand this side of the story.
    I can’t believe you aren’t more popular because you definitely possess the gift.

    Visit my webpage mind control Machines

  12. You can certainly choose an unhealthy diet
    shake that works short-term, but long-term success comes from programs that incorporate nutrition, exercise and
    lifestyle changes. The Evolv Health product is nutritional enhanced water.
    In simple terms, you’re making money off of EVERYONE that
    joins your organization after you acheive this level.

  13. Hey superb website! Does running a blog similar to this take
    a lot of work? I’ve very little expertise in programming however I
    was hoping to start my own blog soon. Anyway, if you have any
    suggestions or tips for new blog owners please share. I understand this is off subject but
    I simply wanted to ask. Appreciate it!

  14. constantly i used to read smaller articles that
    also clear their motive, and that is also happening with this article which I
    am reading here.

  15. Quitting smoking is just like changing any other long-term habit.
    However, during this kind of addiction, we have lost our sense of control.
    The introduction of the power stroke engines
    have helped them to pick up trucks for sale the amazing speed.

  16. But you see, none of you are ever asked (and it’s a wonderful thing) to stand here and plan everything forevermore.
    Being In The Flow is having goals that cause Energy to flow through you.
    * construct answers that sell you as a candidate for
    the most common interview questions as well as the toughest ones.

  17. certainly like your web-site however you need to check the spelling on several of your posts.
    Many of them are rife with spelling problems and I
    find it very troublesome to inform the reality on the other hand I will certainly come
    again again.

  18. Gemeinsam ist es uns immer wieder gelungen, deutliche Verbesserungen gegenüber den ursprünglichen Gesetzentwürfen zu erzielen.

  19. I am really happy to glance at this weblog posts which includes plenty
    of useful facts, thanks for providing such information.

  20. Simply wish to say your article is as astonishing. The clearness in your post is just excellent and i could assume you are an expert on this subject. Fine with your permission allow me to grab your RSS feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please continue the gratifying work.

  21. Very interesting blog. Alot of blogs I see these days don’t really provide anything that I’m interested in, but I’m most definately interested in this one. Just thought that I would post and let you know.

  22. Buenas!! he estado rebuscando alrededor de unas 4 horas en
    la nube esta tarde y no he visto nada tan increible como tu articulo.
    Me ha exclamado mucho el modo que tienes al escribir imagino que es lo
    que me ha llegado. En mi humilde opinion, si la mayor
    parte de webmasters exponen este tipo de comentarios,
    Internet seria mucho mas practico. Espero que brindes
    mas de esta manera y siga disfrutando comentarios tan brutales como este.

  23. En nuestra empresa podra encontrar un dilatado numero de profesionales de la cerrajeria de Elche con una
    dilatada experiencia en el area de la cerrajeria.
    Cada uno de instaladores de gas son altamente profesionales y poseen una
    amplia experiencia. Realizan todo tipo de labor de cerrajeria, pero
    los mas comunes son estos: instalar, reparar o sustituir cierres metalicos.
    El conjunto de las labores que elaboran los profesionales de la cerrajeria Elche se pueden hacer de manera urgente a cualquier hora del dia, o
    de manera no urgente. El precio de cada labor en muy barato, pero obedeciendo la calidad integra y usando los materiales mas deseables.

    Cada labor es realizado de manera eficaz y con rapidez. Esto hace
    que todos los clientes quedan en todo momento complacidos con el trabajo
    realizado. Nuestro negocio da las gracias a sus consumidores brindandoles una absoluta garantia de regocijo en cada uno de los servicios y
    por esa razon, cada uno de los clientes habla bien a nuestra empresa y nos recomiendan a sus amigos.
    Dentro de las labores que hacemos para particulares, podemos encontrar basicamente: cambio de cerraduras,
    sustitucion de bombillos… En las labores hechas nuestros profesionales con calderas encontramos:
    la colaboracion experto por operarios competentes, reemplazo de algun trozo (cerradura,
    dial, circuito electronico, etc.), abrir sin dañar la caja fuerte, puesta en marcha
    de cajas de seguridad recuperacion de combinacion de
    seguridad… Todos los trabajos logra efectuarlo en cualquier los lugares,
    por ejemplo, en una propiedad de una persona fisica, en un negocio,
    comunidades de propietarios, empresas estatales…
    Tambien, existe la posibilidad de realizarlo de forma urgente (en el
    caso de que se requiera), desplazandonos a cualquier sitio sea necesario
    de forma urgente. Podra contar con nosotros para todos de los servicios aludidas con anterioridad.

  24. I believe what you composed was actually very reasonable.However, what about this? suppose you typed a catchier title?I am not saying your information is not good, butsuppose you added something that makes people desire more?I mean Sign UP | Big Loser India is kinda boring.You could peek at Yahoo’s home page and see how they create news titlesto grab people to open the links. You might add a related video or a pic or two to grab peopleinterested about everything’ve got to say.In my opinion, it might bring your posts a little livelier.

  25. Buenas!! estuve rebuscando asi como unas 3 horas en online esta tarde y no lei nada tan sensacional como
    tu escrito. Me ha llamado la atencion mucho
    el modo que gastas al escribir supongo que es lo que me ha llegado.
    A mi parecer, si muchos de redactores difundieran este tipo de
    comentarios, Internet seria mucho mas practico. Espero que
    ofrezcas mas por esta linea y pueda seguir analizando relatos tan brutales como este.

  26. Hola!! estuve investigando alrededor de unas 4 horas en la red esta manyana y no pude ver nada tan increible como tu
    Redaccion. Me ha entretenido mucho la forma que posees al escribir supongo que es lo que
    me ha llegado. Para mi, si casi todos redactores difundieran estos escritos, Internet seria
    mucho mas practico. Espero que ofrezcas mas asi y
    continue observando posts espectaculares como este.

  27. Comprobara que con nuestro servicio de Alquiler de turismos en Alicante Aeropuerto se evitara tener que buscar, comparar precios y condiciones y contactar con las distintas empresas Rent-a-car pues nosotros efectuamos ese trabajo por usted. Todos los alquileres de coches Alicante: estacion de ferrocarril, centro de la ciudad aeropuerto, para reservar un coche al mejor costo solo necesita empezar una busca de alquiler de coches en Alicante. Jetcost, buscador de vehiculos encuentra la mejor tarifa de alquiler de vehiculos Alicante.

  28. Una vez que el técnico de reparacion de lavadoras urgente de Leganes, llega al domicilio del cliente, lo primero que hace es localizar el tipo de problema que tiene la lavadora, una vez localizada la avería se le da al cliente el presupuesto de la reparacion. Una vez que el técnico de reparacion de lavadoras urgente de Alcala de Henares, llega al domicilio del cliente, lo primero que hace es localizar el tipo de problema que tiene la lavadora, una vez localizada la avería se le da al cliente el presupuesto de la reparacion.

  29. Nuestros boys en Granada completarán tu noche con sus
    increíbles espectáculos, escoge a tu preferido y si lo prefieres
    te podemos aconsejar según vuestras preferencias puesto que cada uno de ellos de nuestros chicos tiene un espectáculo diferente.

  30. iente, lo primero que hace es localizar el tipo de problema que tiene la lavadora, una vez localizada la avería se le da al cliente el presupuesto de la reparacion.

  31. I want you to thank for your time of this wonderful read!!! I definately enjoy every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff of your blog a must read blog!

  32. Given the dominance of Western thought in philosophical inquiry, particularly bioethical inquiry, it makes sense that a discussion of bioethics would take into consideration autonomy, the right of the individual to make his/her own decisions. Really?

  33. Have you ever considered about adding a little bit more than just your articles?
    I mean, what you say is important and everything.
    Nevertheless just imagine if you added some great pictures or video
    clips to give your posts more, “pop”! Your content is
    excellent but with images and video clips, this site could undeniably be one of the greatest in its niche.
    Wonderful blog!

  34. Excellent post. I used to be checking constantly this weblog and I’m impressed!
    Very useful information particularly the ultimate section 🙂 I
    take care of such information much. I was looking for this certain info for
    a long time. Thank you and best of luck.

  35. Superb read, I just passed this onto a friend who was doing a little research on that. And he really bought me lunch because I found it for him smile So let me rephrase that: Thanks for lunch!

Comments are closed.