‘Autonomy’ etymologically breaks down into ‘self-governance’, and it refers to the ability of persons to live their lives according to their own values and life plans. To respect autonomy, then, is to protect individuals against unfair coercion, deception, and paternalism. In many cases it is morally justifiable (and even praiseworthy or obligatory) to interfere with a person against her will when it will benefit her or society at large; for example, forced drug rehabilitation for an addict and laws against smoking in public are considered morally legitimate by many who would otherwise champion people’s right to choose for themselves how to live their lives. This class will focus on the moral importance and limitations of autonomous decision-making in medical settings. We will begin by looking at autonomy through the lens of different ethical theories in order to understand how one can conceptualize and balance this value against others. We will read positions from John Stuart Mill and Immanuel Kant, but we will focus most of the semester on writings from contemporary philosophers and bioethicists. We will study different formulations of the principle to respect autonomy coming from bioethicists such as Tom Beauchamp, Onora O’Neill, and Adrienne Asch. By deconstructing and analyzing cases, we will also discuss some of the core ethical considerations when clinicians trust families, surrogates, and advance directives for medical decision-making. Students will need to purchase The Theory and Practice of Autonomy by Gerald Dworkin (all other materials will be provided digitally).