Russell Woodruff Abstract

Understanding Autonomy and Dependency in Aging

We will begin by considering different ways that people conceive of aging. After illustrating how different conceptions are useful for different purposes, we will use an interpretative or constructivist conception of aging to examine how age-related changes relate to dependency and autonomy. There is a common tendency to see autonomy as synonymous with independence, implying that dependency means a loss of autonomy. Based on an understanding of autonomy advanced by George Agich, we will challenge the common identification of autonomy as independence, and reveal how dependencies can in many cases promote autonomy.


Russell Woodruff, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Philosophy, St. Bonaventure University


George Agich, “Reassessing Autonomy in Long-Term CareHastings Center Report 20.6 (Nov/Dec 1990): 12-17.