Autonomy

Edited by Andrew Jason Cohen (Georgia State University, Georgetown University)
About this topic
Summary Autonomy is one of the most often discussed topics in modern and contemporary philosophy.  It is key to some moral theories, some political philosophies, and, of course, central to understanding the nature of personhood.  Unsurprisingly, then, there are significant disagreements about the nature of autonomy.  There are thinner and thicker understandings of autonomy throughout the literature.  There are moral and political demands that autonomy be protected or promoted.  Its use as a central value in applied ethics is standard.  Generally speaking, then, there are disagreements about what autonomy is and how and why it matters in moral theory and political philosophy.
Key works It is difficult to say what would count as a "key work" here.  Historically, Kant is likely the most important author to consider.  His deontological moral theory rests on a particularly thick conception of autonomy. For a detailed historical overview of autonomy in modern philosophy, it may be best to start with J.B. Schneewind's 1998 The Invention of Autonomy.
Introductions Perhaps the best place to start considering the nature of autonomy is Stephen Darwall's 2006. See also John Christman's SEP entry.
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  1. Hume’s Dynamic Coordination and International Law.Carmen E. Pavel - forthcoming - Political Theory:009059172092183.
    At the heart of the tension between state autonomy and international law is the question of whether states should willingly restrict their freedom of action for the sake of international security, human rights, trade, communication, and the environment. David Hume offers surprising insights to answer this question. He argues that the same interests in cooperation arise among individuals as well as states and that their interactions should be regulated by the same principles. Drawing on his model of dynamic coordination, I (...)
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  2. Structural Injustice and Alienation: A Reply to My Critics.Catherine Lu - 2020 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 23 (4):544-555.
  3. Extending Voice and Autonomy Through Participatory Action Research: Ethical and Practical Issues.Sui Ting Kong, Sarah Banks, Toby Brandon, Stewart Chappell, Helen Charnley, Se Kwang Hwang, Danielle Rudd, Sue Shaw, Sam Slatcher & Nicki Ward - 2020 - Ethics and Social Welfare 14 (2):220-229.
  4. Relational Autonomy as a Way to Recognise and Enhance Children’s Capacity and Agency to Be Participatory Research Actors.Janice McLaughlin - 2020 - Ethics and Social Welfare 14 (2):204-219.
  5. Complicity and Hypocrisy.Nicolas Cornell & Amy Sepinwall - forthcoming - Politics, Philosophy and Economics:1470594X2092466.
    This article offers a justification for accommodating claims of conscience. The standard justification points to the pain that acting against one’s conscience entails. But that defense cannot make sense of the state’s refusal to accommodate individuals where the law interferes with their deeply meaningful but nonmoral projects. An alternative justification, we argue, arises once one recognizes the connection between conscience and moral address: One’s lived moral convictions determine when and with what force one can hold others to account. Acting against (...)
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  6. Antropologia pragmatista. Padova Lectures.Michael Quante & Armando Manchisi (eds.) - 2020 - Padova PD, Italia: Padova University Press.
    What does it mean to be a person? And in what way is this connected to our finitude, i.e. to the properly human aspect of our existence? By analyzing some of the core features of our form of life (personal identity, self-consciousness, freedom, autonomy, responsibility), Michael Quante answers these questions arguing that it is possible to be a person and lead an authentically human life only within social relationships of recognition: only in these relationships, it is possible to know oneself (...)
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  7. Political Normativity and the Functional Autonomy of Politics.Carlo Burelli - forthcoming - European Journal of Political Theory:147488512091850.
    This article argues for a new interpretation of the realist claim that politics is autonomous from morality and involves specific political values. First, this article defends an original normative source: functional normativity. Second, it advocates a substantive functional standard: political institutions ought to be assessed by their capacity to select and implement collective decisions. Drawing from the ‘etiological account’ in philosophy of biology, I will argue that functions yield normative standards, which are independent from morality. For example, a ‘good heart’ (...)
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  8. Between Race and Nation: Marcus Garvey and the Politics of Self-Determination.Desmond Jagmohan - 2020 - Political Theory 48 (3):271-302.
    This essay argues that Marcus Garvey held a constructivist theory of self-determination, one that saw nationalism and transnationalism as mutually necessary and reinforcing ideals. The argument proceeds in three steps. First it recovers Garvey’s transnationalist emphasis by looking at his intellectual debts to other diaspora struggles, namely political Zionism and Irish nationalism. Second it argues that Garvey held a constructivist view of national identity, which also grounds his argument that the black diaspora has a right to collective self-determination. Third it (...)
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  9. Extending Voice and Autonomy Through Participatory Action Research: Ethical and Practical IssuesReflections on a Workshop Held at Durham University, November 2018.Sui Ting Kong, Sarah Banks, Toby Brandon, Stewart Chappell, Helen Charnley, Se Kwang Hwang, Danielle Rudd, Sue Shaw, Sam Slatcher & Nicki Ward - forthcoming - Ethics and Social Welfare:1-10.
  10. Emma and Defective Action.Eileen John - 2018 - In Eva Dadlez (ed.), Jane Austen's Emma: Philosophical Perspectives. New York, NY, USA: pp. 84-108.
    This chapter explores what Emma and Austen might have to say about human agency and autonomy. Considered and challenged are Christine Korsgaard’s use of Austen’s characters (Emma Woodhouse and Harriet Smith) to exemplify a species of defective autonomous action. Austen's novel persistently addresses and clarifies the nature and sources of defective action. Harriet Smith’s happy subordination to Emma’s will, as Korsgaard maintains, is obviously problematic. But it is most often Emma Woodhouse herself, and not Harriet, whose conduct Austen presents as (...)
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  11. “Properly a Subject of Contempt”: The Role of Natural Penalties in Mill's Liberal Thought.Thomas Schramme - forthcoming - Journal of Social Philosophy.
  12. Recognitive Arguments for Workplace Democracy.Onni Hirvonen & Keith Breen - forthcoming - Constellations.
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  13. ‘This Man is My Property’: Slavery and Political Absolutism in Locke and the Classical Social Contract Tradition.Johan Olsthoorn & Laurens van Apeldoorn - forthcoming - European Journal of Political Theory:147488512091130.
    It is morally impossible, Locke argued, for individuals to consensually establish absolute rule over themselves. That would be to transfer to rulers a power that is not ours, but God’s alone: owner...
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  14. "...Lehetetlen úgy megváltoztatni a jelent, hogy ne változtassuk meg a múltat" - Losoncz Alpárral Tóth Szilárd János és Kocsis Árpád beszélget.Szilárd János Tóth, Árpád Kocsis & Alpár Losoncz - 2019 - Híd 86 (10):5-19.
    Interjú az Új Symposion örökségéről, Jugoszláviáról, a vajdasági magyarság baloldali radikális hagyományáról, az avantgárdról stb.
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  15. Associative Solidarity, Relational Goods, and Autonomy for Refugees: What Does It Mean to Stand in Solidarity with Refugees?Christine Straehle - forthcoming - Journal of Social Philosophy.
    Journal of Social Philosophy, EarlyView.
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  16. Property and Capital in the Person: Lockean and Neoliberal Self‐Ownership.Niklas Angebauer - 2020 - Constellations 27 (1):50-62.
  17. Sovereignty Over Natural Resources.Ioannis Kouris - forthcoming - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy:1-24.
  18. A Republican Argument for the Rule of Law.Frank Lovett - forthcoming - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy:1-22.
  19. Health, Migration and Human Rights.Johannes Kniess - forthcoming - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy:1-19.
  20. The Social Bases of Freedom.Harrison Frye - forthcoming - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy:1-17.
  21. Normative Behaviourism as a Solution to Four Problems in Realism and Non-Ideal Theory.Jonathan Floyd - 2020 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 23 (2):137-162.
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  22. Book Review: Chains of Persuasion: A Framework for Religion in Democracy, by Benjamin R. Hertzberg. [REVIEW]William P. Umphres - forthcoming - Political Theory:009059172090160.
  23. Liberalism, Neutrality, and the Child's Right to an Open Future.Frank Dietrich - 2020 - Journal of Social Philosophy 51 (1):104-128.
    The child’s right to an open future aims at protecting the autonomy of the mature person into which a child will normally develop. The justification of state interventions into parental decisions which unduly restrict the options of the prospective adult has to address the problem that the value of autonomy is highly contested in modern pluralist societies. The article argues that the modern majority culture provides young adults with many more options than traditionalist religious communities. However, the options that can (...)
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  24. Pitting People Against Each Other.Waheed Hussain - 2020 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 48 (1):79-113.
    Philosophy &Public Affairs, Volume 48, Issue 1, Page 79-113, Winter 2020.
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  25. Pupils with Special Educational Needs: Experiencing Recognition in Individual Subject Curriculum Meetings.Janaina Hartveit Lie - forthcoming - Constellations.
  26. Book Review: Poetic Justice: Rereading Plato’s “Republic,” by Jill Frank. [REVIEW]Jonny Thakkar - 2020 - Political Theory 48 (1):121-126.
  27. Parental Rights and the Importance of Being Parents.Liam Shields - 2017 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 22 (2):1-15.
  28. On Being Good Gay: ‘Covering’ and the Social Structure of Being LGBT+.Annamari Vitikainen - forthcoming - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy:1-8.
  29. Individuality and Hierarchy in Cicero’s De Officiis.Michael C. Hawley - 2020 - European Journal of Political Theory 19 (1):87-105.
    This essay explores a creative argument that Cicero offers to answer a fundamental question: how are we to judge among different ways of life? Is there a natural hierarchy of human types? In response to this problem, Cicero gives an account of a person’s possessing two natures. All of us participate in a general human nature, the characteristics of which provide us with certain universal duties and a natural moral hierarchy. But, we also each possess an individual nature, qualities that (...)
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  30. Las raíces kantianas de la autonomía personal en el pensamiento de Rawls.Jorge Crego - 2019 - Persona y Derecho 80:279-305.
    Rawls acknowledges the analogy between his conception of the moral personality and the thought of Kant. However, many philosophers have discussed that similarity. This article aims to evaluate the Kantian foundation of Rawlsian liberty. Specifically, it assesses the idea of personal autonomy. The conclusion is that certain interpretation of Kant, which incorporates both his thinkings on the moral law and on happiness as an intrinsic purpose of the human being, allows the acknowledgement of the aforementioned analogy, and thus enables a (...)
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  31. Political Liberalism, Autonomy, and Education.Blain Neufeld - forthcoming - In The Palgrave Handbook of Citizenship and Education.
    Citizens are politically autonomous insofar as they are subject to laws that are (a) justified by reasons acceptable to them and (b) authorized by them via their political institutions. An obstacle to the equal realization of political autonomy is the plurality of religious, moral, and philosophical views endorsed by citizens. Decisions regarding certain fundamental political issues (e.g., abortion) can involve citizens imposing political positions justified in terms of their respective worldviews upon others. Despite citizens’ disagreements over which worldview is correct, (...)
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  32. Human Rights and Public Health Ethics.S. Matthew Liao - 2019 - Social Philosophy Today 35:9-20.
    This paper relates human rights to public health ethics and policies by discussing the nature and moral justification of human rights generally, and the right to health in particular. Which features of humanity ground human rights? To answer this question, as an alternative to agency and capabilities approaches, the paper offers the “fundamental conditions approach,” according to which human rights protect the fundamental conditions for pursuing a good life. The fundamental conditions approach identifies “basic health”—the adequate functioning of the various (...)
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  33. Citizens' Autonomy and Corporate Cultural Power.Lisa Herzog - forthcoming - Journal of Social Philosophy.
  34. Educational Adequacy and Educational Equality: A Merging Proposal.Fernando de los Santos Menéndez - forthcoming - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy:1-22.
  35. Authenticity and Normative Authority: Addressing the Agency Dilemma with Values of One’s Own.Kathryn MacKay - forthcoming - Journal of Social Philosophy.
  36. Rights and Territories: A Reply to Nine, Miller, and Stilz.A. J. Simmons - 2019 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 18 (4):v-xx.
    ‘Rights and Territories: A Reply to Nine, Miller, and Stilz’ defends the Lockean theory of states’ territorial rights against the critiques of Nine, Miller, and Stilz. In response to Nine’s concern that such a Lockean theory cannot justify the right of legitimate states to exclude aliens, it is argued that a consent-based theory like the Lockean one is flexible enough to justify a wide range of possible incidents of territorial rights – importantly including, though not necessarily including, the sort of (...)
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  37. Geoengineering the Climate and Ethical Challenges: What We Can Learn From Moral Emotions and Art.Sabine Roeser, Behnam Taebi & Neelke Doorn - forthcoming - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy:1-18.
  38. What May We Hope For? Education in Times of Climate Change.Ingerid S. Straume - forthcoming - Constellations.
  39. The Cruel Optimism of Sexual Consent.Alisa Kessel - forthcoming - Contemporary Political Theory:1-22.
    This article intervenes in a critical debate about the use of consent to distinguish sex from rape. Drawing from critical contract theories, it argues that sexual consent is a cruel optimism that often operates to facilitate, rather than alleviate, sexual violence. Sexual consent as a cruel optimism promises to simplify rape allegations in the popular cultural imagination, confounds the distinction between victims and agents of sexual violence, and establishes certainty for potential victimizers who rely on it to convince themselves and (...)
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  40. Liberalism, Commodification, and Justice.Vida Panitch - 2019 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 19 (1):62-82.
    Anti-commodification theorists condemn liberal political philosophers for not being able to justify restricting a market transaction on the basis of what is sold, but only on the basis of how it is sold. The anti-commodification theorist is correct that if this were all the liberal had to say in the face of noxious markets, it would be inadequate: even if everyone has equal bargaining power and no one is misled, there are some goods that should not go to the highest (...)
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  41. Locke, Liberty, and Law: Legalism and Extra-Legal Powers in the Second Treatise.Assaf Sharon - forthcoming - European Journal of Political Theory.
    The apparent inconsistency between Locke’s commitment to legalism and his explicit endorsement of the extra-legal power of prerogative has confounded many readers. Among those who don’t ignore or d...
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  42. Liberal Neutrality and the Nonidentity Problem: The Right to Procreate Deaf Children.Cristian Puga‐Gonzalez - 2019 - Journal of Social Philosophy 50 (3):363-381.
  43. Giving Myself a Law: Nietzsche, Self-Respect, and the Problem with Kant's Universalism.Matt Bennett - 2018 - Iride: Filosofia e Discussione Pubblica 2 (2).
    This paper offers a new interpretation of Nietzsche’s criticisms of Kant’s account of freedom and renders these criticisms in such a way as to pose a serious challenge to Kantian ethics. My first aim is to explain Nietzsche’s challenge to the principle that being free means acting as a free agent ought to act, which I call Kant’s universalism. My second aim is to show that Kant’s accounts of self-respect is a particularly unconvincing account of how we can make room (...)
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  44. Negativität: Kunst - Recht - Politik.Thomas Khurana, Dirk Quadflieg, Juliane Rebentisch, Dirk Setton & Francesca Raimondi (eds.) - 2018 - Berlin: Suhrkamp.
    Gegen die verbreitete Vorstellung, dass Negativität im Interesse von mehr Selbstverwirklichung, Produktivität und Positivität überwunden oder be-grenzt werden muss, eröffnet dieser Band eine andere Perspektive. Er geht den verschiedenen Formen des Negativen in Kunst, Recht und Politik nach, um zu zeigen, dass es nicht allein eine Negativität gibt, die dem Gelingen im Weg steht oder zu dessen sicher beherrschtem Mittel wird. Die Beiträge des Bandes erweisen Negativität vielmehr als eine Kraft der Befreiung, die ein Gelingen anderer Art ermöglicht.
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  45. The Human Right to Health: A Defense.Nicole Hassoun - forthcoming - Journal of Social Philosophy.
  46. Towards a Non-Ideal Theory of Climate Migration.Joachim Wündisch - forthcoming - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy:1-32.
  47. Children’s Well-Being and Vulnerability.Alexander Bagattini - 2019 - Ethics and Social Welfare 13 (3):211-215.
  48. Ethics and Chronic Illness.Michael Dunn - 2019 - Ethics and Social Welfare 13 (3):311-314.
  49. Confidentiality and Ethical Practice in Child and Adolescent Mental Health.Steven Walker - 2019 - Ethics and Social Welfare 13 (3):302-308.
  50. Vulnerability and Autonomy – Children and Adults.Johannes Giesinger - 2019 - Ethics and Social Welfare 13 (3):216-229.
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