SPECIAL SECTION: AUTONOMY: THE DELICATE BALANCE SPECIAL SECTION: AUTONOMY: THE DELICATE BALANCE
Relational Professional Autonomy
CHRIS MacDONALD a1 a1 Philosophy Department at Dalhousie
University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
The notion of “relational” autonomy—as described
by feminist scholars such as Susan Sherwin and Anne Donchin—has
been the subject of a significant body of literature over the last few
years and has recently generated some interest within the field of
bioethics. Although the focus of this interest has been the autonomy of
ordinary moral agents, the analysis of relational autonomy can usefully
be extended to apply to the autonomy of professionals, not only as
individual moral agents, but in their roles as professionals as well.
In this paper, I argue that professional autonomy, rightly understood,
is relational in nature. This understanding of professional autonomy
stands to improve our understanding of professional ethics, as well as
providing a particular, concrete example of what we mean when we call
autonomy “relational” and “socially embedded.