Out of the doll's house: Reflections on autonomy and political philosophy

Philosophical Explorations 2 (1):59 – 69 (1999)
Much modern liberal political theory takes the concept of autonomy as central and argues that political arrangements are to be assessed, in some part, by their ability to foster the development of individual autonomy understood as being the author of one's own life. This paper argues that so understood, autonomy is less important than is usually thought The liberal requirement that we 'author' our own lives disguises the importance of also being accurate readers of our own lives. I explore the metaphor of reading through a discussion of the character of Nora in Ibsen's Doll's Houseand argue that Nora's case demonstrates the limitations of the liberal understanding of autonomy as involving authorship of one's own life.
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