Relational autonomy in feminist bioethics

Natalie Stoljar, Catriona Mackenzie

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter outlines the feminist approach of relational autonomy and contrasts it with decisional and libertarian conceptions. The first section identifies three main themes in relational approaches. The second focuses on the implications of relational autonomy for the notions of informed consent and decisional autonomy. The third outlines the relational autonomy analysis of adaptive preferences, namely preferences that are accommodated to the social circumstances of oppression. And the fourth considers the implications of exploitation and vulnerability for conceptions of autonomy, drawing on ethnographic descriptions of organ markets and gestational surrogacy. The chapter argues that decisional and libertarian autonomy are inadequate to capture feminist moral concerns and that the ethical principle that should be employed is respect for relational autonomy. The chapter concludes by discussing a possible objection, that the principle of respect for relational autonomy is too demanding to be practicable in health care contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge handbook of feminist bioethics
EditorsWendy A. Rogers, Jackie Leach Scully, Stacy M. Carter, Vikki A. Entwistle, Catherine Mills
Place of PublicationNew York ; London
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor and Francis Group
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781003016885
ISBN (Print)9780367860998, 9781032290393
Publication statusPublished - 2023


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