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What is autonomy in ethics?

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Quick Answer

Autonomy in ethics refers to individual freedom or one’s right to make decisions without being coerced. It is the concept of social, political and ethical morals that give individuals the rational right to make their own informed choices. The individual’s decisions are also guided by the principles of what is right and wholesome as given by sensible conscience and as defined by the society.

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What is autonomy in ethics?
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Autonomy in ethics, also known as self-governing right of individuals, cuts across many disciplines, ranging from philosophy, religion, medicine and politics, and even to international human rights systems. Autonomy in ethics forms the basis of many professions and career requirements. For instance, it is an important concept in the biomedical field both for patients and biomedical practitioners. It gives patients the right to the kind of medication to which they are subjected. This is a right that was traditionally not accorded to patients. However, because of autonomy in ethics it is now acceptable, although patients may only be allowed to exercise their autonomy when proven mentally stable. In addition to autonomy in medicine, the right applies in ethics as well. It also has a crucial impact in politics as it awards people the freedom and right to make decisions about who is to govern them.


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