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Abandonment or Liberation? Anorexia, Refusal of Treatment, and the Limits of Proceduralism

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Abstract

This paper analyses the limits of procedural conception of autonomy in critical theories addressed to the English Mental Health system. I will conduct my analysis in the framework of a specific case: the assessment of autonomy for anorexic patients refusing treatment. After having described the approach prescribed by the English Law, and the ethical and legal problems that it implies, I will examine two critical accounts grounded on a procedural conception of autonomy. First, I will analyse Simona Giordano’s account, which is characterised by a conception of autonomy that depends exclusively on the functional capacities of the patient; having done so, I will then examine John Chrisman’s theory, in which autonomy is connected to the notion of authenticity. I will argue that the solutions offered by these approaches are not only in conflict with the insight coming from psychiatry, anorexics, and post-anorexics patients but also, and more crucially, that these theories are structurally unable to develop a consistent approach to the peculiar issues involved in the assessment of autonomy in anorexic patients. I conclude arguing that critical theories that aim to pragmatically fulfil their emancipatory purposes should reject purely proceduralist conception of autonomy and focusing on the links existing between the exercise of autonomy and values ascribable to weak substantivism such as self-worth, self-trust, self-respect, and dialogical accountability.

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Correspondence to Jacopo Condò .

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Condò, J. (2022). Abandonment or Liberation? Anorexia, Refusal of Treatment, and the Limits of Proceduralism. In: Bosseau, D.C., Bunyard, T. (eds) Critical Theory Today. Political Philosophy and Public Purpose. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-07638-1_7

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-07638-1_7

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  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-031-07637-4

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-031-07638-1

  • eBook Packages: Social SciencesSocial Sciences (R0)

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