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The value of autonomy and the right to self-medication
  1. James Stacey Taylor
  1. Correspondence to Dr James Stacey Taylor, Department of Philosophy, The College of New Jersey, 2000 Pennington, Ewing, NJ 08626, USA; jtaylor{at}


In ‘Three Arguments Against Prescription Requirements’, Jessica Flanigan argues that ‘prescription drug laws violate patients' rights to self-medication’ and that patients ‘have rights to self-medication for the same reasons they have rights to refuse medical treatment according to the doctrine of informed consent (DIC), claiming that the strongest of these reasons is grounded on the value of autonomy. However, close examination of the moral value of autonomy shows that rather than being the strongest justification for the DIC, respect for the value of autonomy is actually the weakest, and it is dependent upon the first two well-being-based justifications for the DIC. Recognising this has important implications for Flanigan's argument against prescription requirements.

  • Coercion
  • euthanasia

Statistics from


  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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