Autonomy, Emotional Vulnerability and the Dynamics of Power

In Sandrine Bergès & Alberto Siani (eds.), Women Philosophers on Autonomy. Londra, Regno Unito: pp. 208-225 (2018)

Carla Bagnoli
University of Modena
Traditionally, philosophers have focused on whether and how emotions threaten autonomy, insofar as they lie outside the sphere of rational agency. That is, they have conceptualized emotional vulnerability as passivity. Second, they have considered how emotions are insensitive to rational judgment, focusing on cases in which emotions are dissonant or recalcitrant. Third, in recognizing the motivational force of emotions, philosophers have tracked their negative impact on rational deliberation. Indeed, emotions are often contrastive elements in rational deliberation. They appear to defeat deliberative judgments about what to do, survive rational deliberation or preempt the very possibility of rational deliberation. But there are more interesting cases in which it is apparent that emotions bear a rather complicated relation to autonomy. Love and shame provide powerful examples of the ambivalences and complexities of such a relation. In analyzing such complexities, my aim is to present a case for appreciating various dimensions of vulnerability and, correspondingly, for exposing the importance of emotional vulnerability for agential autonomy. This view is rooted in a general account of agential autonomy marked by mutual respect and recognition of others, as a normative response to constitutive vulnerability, understood as the capacity to affect and be affected by others as well as by external agentive and non-agentive causes.
Keywords autonomy  love  shame  practical rationality  emotions  dependence
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