Respect for autonomy is commonly defined as respect for an autonomous agent's capacity for self-determination. Thus, respect for autonomy is the acknowledgement of a person's right to make choices and take action, free from coercion, based on that person's subjective belief systems. The practice of informed consent is the gold standard for respect for autonomy in the physician/patient interaction. The plumbline libertarian has no objections to this definition of respect for autonomy.
However, many bioethicists, after defining respect for autonomy appropriately, then proceed to assert that respect for autonomy is not an absolute value because it can be superseded by competing moral claims (such as the common good within the context of a community). The plumbline libertarian opposes this qualification.
Skeptics of absolute respect for autonomy typically provide several scenarios (danger to public health, utilization of scarce resources, aggressive violence or the "potential" for aggressive violence against other persons or justly acquired property) they claim justify "reasonable" restrictions on personal autonomy. I shall evaluate those farcical scenarios in a future blog post.