The views of Joseph Raz, Ronald Dworkin, John Finnis, and Robert George on the value and limits of personal autonomy are examined in a new article by Adam McLeod, The Mystery of Life in the Laboratory of Democracy: Personal Autonomy in State Law. “The article then examines several different areas of state law where one might expect a principle of autonomy to be implicated, and articulates six important lessons that one can glean from state law about the relationship between personal autonomy and other human goods.” The six principles Professor MacLeod identifies are:
(1) Personal Autonomy is an Important Condition of Pre-Moral Choosing Among
Basic Human Goods.
(2) The State Properly Restricts Exercises of Personal Autonomy That Cause Harm.
(3) Personal Autonomy is an Important Condition of the Realization of Reflexive
(4) Some Autonomous Acts Are Valueless.
(5) Not All Basic Goods Appear to be Reflexive.
(6) Neither a Principle of Personal Autonomy nor the Unconditional Value of Some
Basic Goods Conclusively Resolves Every Controversial Issue.
His discussion of assisted suicide as supportative of the proposition that “some autonomous acts are valueless” will be of particular interest to UFL members.