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The Ethical Treatment of DepressionAutonomy through Psychotherapy$
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Paul Biegler

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780262015493

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262015493.001.0001

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Autonomy: The Importance of Justified Beliefs about Material Facts

Autonomy: The Importance of Justified Beliefs about Material Facts

(p.8) (p.9) 2 Autonomy: The Importance of Justified Beliefs about Material Facts
The Ethical Treatment of Depression

Paul Biegler

The MIT Press

This chapter argues the idea that doctors are morally obligated to promote autonomy in depressed patients. Because autonomy requires actions that are coherent with desires and values the agent endorses as his or her own, the clinical utility of desire-based theories is limited by conceptual difficulties. For an agent’s actions to be considered autonomous, the agent must hold on to justified beliefs of material facts. Agency and liberty are specified as the foundational elements of autonomy, while four contemporary theories are presented that stipulate the kinds of desires compatible with actions under full agential control. This chapter also explains how autonomy accrues value instrumentally and intrinsically, before showing that value to be a source of the normative weight accorded the principle of respect for autonomy.

Keywords:   autonomy, depressed patients, desires, values, justified beliefs, desire-based theories, agency, liberty, full agential control, respect for autonomy

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