Reconsidering Relational Autonomy. Personal Autonomy for Socially Embedded and Temporally Extended Selves

Analyse & Kritik 30 (2):445-468 (2008)
Abstract
Most recent accounts of personal autonomy acknowledge that the social environment a person lives in, and the personal relationships she entertains, have some impact on her autonomy. Two kinds of conceptualizing social conditions are traditionally distinguished in this regard: Causally relational accounts hold that certain relationships and social environments play a causal role for the development and ongoing exercise of autonomy. Constitutively relational accounts, by contrast, claim that autonomy is at least partly constituted by a person’s social environment or standing. The central aim of this paper is to raise the question how causally and constitutively relational approaches relate to the fact that we exercise our autonomy over time. I argue that once the temporal scope of autonomy is opened up, we need not only to think differently about the social dimension of autonomy. We also need to reconsider the very distinction between causally and constitutively relational accounts, because it is itself a synchronic distinction
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DOI 10.1515/auk-2008-0206
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