Oral Presentation Australasian Association of Bioethics & Health Law and New Zealand Bioethics Conference

The value of autonomy (1011)

Lisa Dive 1
  1. University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW, Australia

In this presentation I will argue that we should treat autonomy as something that has instrumental value only, rather than it being something that is valuable in and of itself. To support this claim, I will review and assess some of the arguments for autonomy having intrinsic value. I will argue that the main arguments put forward for seeing autonomy as intrinsically valuable are problematic and that seeing autonomy as instrumentally valuable is not only justifiable but also has a number of advantages. For example, we can explain autonomy’s value by seeing it as a vital component of human flourishing, and this can provide sound reasons for overriding autonomy claims where they result in potential harms. Therefore, we have good reason to see autonomy as something which has instrumental value, rather than being intrinsically valuable.