Respect for autonomy is a central moral principle in bioethics. It is sometimes argued that authenticity, i.e., being “real,” “genuine,” “true to oneself,” or similar, is crucial to a person’s autonomy. Patients sometimes make what appears to be inauthentic decisions, such as when anorexia nervosa patients refuse treatment to avoid gaining weight, despite that the risk of harm is very high. If such decisions are inauthentic, and therefore non-autonomous, it may be the case they should be overridden for paternalist reasons. (...) However, it is not clear what justifies the judgment that someone or something is inauthentic. This article discusses one recent theory of what justifies judgments of inauthenticity. It is argued that the theory is seriously limited, as it only provides guidance in three out of nine identified cases. There are at least six authenticity-related problems to be solved, and autonomy theorists thus have reason to engage with the topic of authenticity in practical biomedicine. (shrink)
Much of contemporary research ethics was developed in the latter half of the twentieth century as a response to the unethical treatment of human beings in biomedical research. Research ethical considerations have subsequently been extended to cover topics in the sciences and technology such as data handling, precautionary measures, engineering codes of conduct, and more. However, moral issues in the humanities have gained less attention from research ethicists. This article proposes an ethical principle for reading for research purposes: Respect the (...) author. (shrink)
In a recent article in this journal, Rolf Ahlzén treats a moral problem related to physician-assisted suicide and the notion of authenticity. The problem is whether considerations of a patient’s “true self” should be included in judgments of PAS. In this short commentary, it is argued that Ahlzén neglects to attend to central contributions to the philosophy of authenticity, provides an internally inconsistent theory thereof, and conflates crucial distinctions in the debate.