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Reflections on bioethics: consolidation of the principle of autonomy and legal aspects

Author(s): Segre Marco

Journal: Cadernos de Saúde Pública
ISSN 0102-311X

Volume: 15;
Issue: suppl.1;
Start page: 91;
Date: 1999;
Original page

Keywords: Bioethics | Social Values | Morals | Legislation

The author highlights the importance of emotions in all ethical reflections. He describes the most common positions of ethicists employing duties and rights as the basis for ethical thought. The author, goes to Freudian theory as viewed by the utilitarians, stating that the 'quest for pleasure' is not necessarily egocentric, especially for adults. For example, the feeling of solidarity emerges 'from the inside out', making irrelevant all the emphasis laid on obedience to duty (from the outside in). The article questions the essence of Kantian theory, based exclusively on 'reason' with disregard for feelings, by establishing what he considers a 'positivist' view of rational thought. It emphasizes the principle of autonomy, which it seen as basically opposing the principles of beneficence and fairness. It is proposed that the latter should be seen as what he calls heteronomy (a concept different from that of the rational ethicists). In theory, autonomy is not assigned to anyone on the basis of an external assessment. Any intervention in individual autonomy must be made (by the intervenor) when it becomes imperative in the defense of social or cultural values. The article distinguishes between ethics and morals) and states that the sole acceptable ethical principle is that ethics (theoretically) has no principle.
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