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Begon, Jessica, and . Paternalism

2016, Analysis 76(3): 355-373.

Summary: Analysis review article of recent work on the topic of paternalism. Discusses different ways in which the term is defined, reviews the debate between ‘paternalists’ and ‘anti-paternalists’, and presents soft paternalism.

Comment: Could be used as an introductory reading to the topic of paternalism, or a further reading to provide a comprehensive background to recent work in the area.

Garcia, Jorge L. A., and . Health versus Harm: Euthanasia and Physicians’ Duties

2007, Journal of Medicine and Philsophy, 31 (1): 7-24.

Abstract: This essay rebuts Gary Seay’s efforts to show that committing euthanasia need not conflict with a physician’s professional duties. First, I try to show how his misunderstanding of the correlativity of rights and duties and his discussion of the foundation of moral rights undermine his case. Second, I show aspects of physicians’ professional duties that clash with euthanasia, and that attempts to avoid this clash lead to absurdities. For professional duties are best understood as deriving from professional virtues and the commitments and purposes with which the professional as such ought to act, and there is no plausible way in which her death can be seen as advancing the patient’s medical welfare. Third, I argue against Prof. Seay’s assumption that apparent conflicts among professional duties must be resolved through ‘balancing’ and argue that, while the physician’s duty to extend life is continuous with her duty to protect health, any duty to relieve pain is subordinate to these. Finally, I show that what is morally determinative here, as throughout the moral life, is the agent’s intention and that Prof. Seay’s implicitly preferred consequentialism threatens not only to distort moral thinking but would altogether undermine the medical (and any other) profession and its internal ethics.

Comment: This text will mostly be of use to advanced students (or courses) focusing on the ethics of physician assisted suicide or euthanasia. It presents a detailed rebuttal to Seay's "Euthanasia and Physicians' Moral Duties," so it will be of most use to students who have read Seay's text or are deeply familiar with defenses of euthanasia based in consequentialist moral reasoning.

O'Neill, Onora, and . Autonomy: The Emperor’s New Clothes

2003, Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 77(1): 1-20.

Abstract: Conceptions of individual autonomy and of rational autonomy have played large parts in twentieth century moral philosophy, yet it is hard to see how either could be basic to morality. Kant’s conception of autonomy is radically different. He predicated autonomy neither of individual selves nor of processes of choosing, but of principles of action. Principles of action are Kantianly autonomous only if they are law-like in form and could be universal in scope; they are heteronomous if, although law-like in form, they cannot have universal scope. Puzzles about claims linking morality, reason and autonomy are greatly reduced by recognising the distinctiveness of Kantian autonomy

Comment: Offers a clear overview of different approaches to autonomy and provides a useful exegesis of Kant's own conception, which is vigorously distinguished from both 'personal' and 'rational' autonomy. Would be a good specialised reading or further reading if teaching either on autonomy in general, or Kant's theory of morality.

Oshana, Marina, and . Personal Autonomy and Society

1998, Journal of Social Philosophy 29(1): 81–102.

Content: Oshana argues against ‘internalist’ theories of autonomy that focus exclusively on psychological conditions internal to the agent – what goes on inside her head – and suggests instead that certain social relations must obtain between the agent and those around her for genuine autonomy to be possible.

Comment: Oshana argues that personal autonomy is a socio-relational phenomenon partially constructed by external, social relations. She also offers an interesting and detailed critique of internalist accounts, which makes the text very useful in teaching on autonomy and free will in general. The text is best used as a further reading in undergraduate and a more central required reading in postgraduate teaching. It offers a good synopsis of Gerald Dworkin's influential conception of autonomy.