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Applicability of the principle of respect for autonomy: the perspective of Turkey


Turkey has a complex character, which has differences from the Western world or Eastern Asia as well as common points. Even after more than a century of efforts to modernise and integrate with the West, Turkish society has values that are different from those of the West, as well as having Western values. It is worth questioning whether ordinary Turkish people show an individualistic character. The principle of respect for individual autonomy arises from a perception of oneself as an individual, and the person’s situation may affect the applicability of the principle. Patients who perceive themselves to be members of a community rather than free persons and who prefer to participate in the common decisions of the community and to consider the common interest and the common value system of the community concerning problems of their life (except healthcare or biomedical research) rather than to decide as independent, rational individuals may not be competent to make an autonomous choice. Expectations that such patients will behave as autonomous individuals may be unjustified. The family, rather than the patient, may take a primary role in decisions. A flexible system considering cultural differences in the concept of autonomy may be more feasible than a system following strict universal norms.

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  • Competing interests: None declared.