Autonomy promotion has become a widely-practised activity in the field of public health, since studies have emerged showing the close relationship between individuals' state of health and their ability to exercise control over their life and their living conditions. Many vigorous ethical debates have taken place and continue to take place surrounding this issue.
However, significant changes in the ethnocultural composition of the Canadian population have generated debates more specifically focused on the implications of these changes for autonomy promotion practices. The impetus for these particular debates is the idea that autonomy is a culturally determined product (historically, socially and politically speaking).
The present text, developed by Michel Désy, deals with specific ethical concerns related to the promotion of autonomy in a pluriethnic context.
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The essays developed in the context of our ethic project present summary discussions of some contemporary ethical issues concerning various aspects of public policy and their impact on health. The goal is to encourage reflection on these issues among public health actors. Thus, in order to extend debate, the following questions may be asked with respect to this text:
- Can this problem be understood differently, particularly as it relates to religious belonging, without reference to ethnic belonging?
- The author chose to address the ethical issues raised exclusively through reference to the question of religious belonging. Can they be analyzed with reference to other dimensions of social belonging?
- Finally, the author argues, with few concessions, for the general adoption of the principles of weak and broad paternalism. Do you think it should also be stressed that an approach based on strong paternalism can be equally well defended in ethical terms, for certain specific situations?
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