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date: 18 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores four kinds of skepticism about autonomy in general and its applicability to psychiatric ethics in particular. It is argued that although there are valuable lessons to be learnt from each of these skeptical challenges, their overall contribution is best understood in terms of friendly correctives to an autonomy-centered normative and conceptual framework instead of viable alternatives to it. The first four sections each provide a logical reconstruction of a distinct skeptical line of reasoning about autonomy and expand on its implications for psychiatric ethics: skepticism about personal autonomy; skepticism about autonomy as an agency concept; vulnerability-grounded skepticism about autonomy; and paternalism-friendly skepticism about autonomy. The fifth section identifies and explores the underlying presuppositions that motivate the previously discussed forms of skepticism about autonomy, and the sixth reflects on the significance of psychiatric ethics for rebutting skepticism about autonomy and developing a new, more promising positive theory.

Keywords: autonomy, paternalism, personal autonomy, psychiatric ethics, skepticism about autonomy, vulnerability

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