In ethics, autonomy is the right of an individual to make an un-coerced decision. While studying this, I often find myself thinking of free will. If free will does not exist, how would this affect the practice of medical ethics in situations that currently involve the consideration of autonomy?
i think the problems of free will/determinism and personal decisions of this nature are of such different orders that it wouldn't invalidate the importance of patients giving uncoerced, lucid consent to medical procedures
As in the example given by John Searle, if I'm out to dinner and the waiter asks 'Would you like the chicken or the steak?', saying 'sorry love I'm a determinist, i don't believe in choice' - won't really cut it. Even if the answer to 'will you undergo this surgery?' is at some level determined prior to its being asked, I find it hard to imagine a scenario where the neccesity of consulting the patient is invalidated. As in Searle's example, within our current way of relating to the world, even if conceptually we don't believe in free will, people kind of have to act as though they do anyway in situations like this.