The principle of respect for autonomy has proved very useful for bioethical arguments in favor of euthanasia. However unquestionable its theoretical efficacy, countless aporiae can be raised when conducting a detailed analysis of this concept, probably checkmating it. Based on such considerations, this paper investigates the principle of autonomy, starting with its origins in Greek and Christian traditions, and then charting some of its developments in Western cultures through to its modern formulation, a legacy of Immanuel Kant. The main paradoxes of this concept are then presented in the fields of philosophy, biology, psychoanalysis and politics, expounding several of the theoretical difficulties to be faced in order to make its applicability possible within the scope of decisions relating to the termination of life.
Bioethics; Euthanasia; Death; Autonomy