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The principle of respect for autonomy has served as a pillar of American bioethics. Through its application in response to physician paternalism and as the basis for informed consent, it has attained preeminent status in the discipline. New challenges in health care warrant a re-examination of the origins of our autonomy. Developmental psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and behavioral neurology all emphasize the intimate relationship between our cognitive and emotional development, and through this, our conscious and unconscious minds. Our intellectual, and particularly our moral development, are instilled in us by our moral mentors, and consequently by our community as a whole. Autonomy and community are therefore inextricably interlinked, and our emphasis on liberty, rights, and privacy without the inclusion of family, community, and social responsibility is biologically unsound. Appreciation of this reality should lead to a more balanced set of bioethical norms.