Autonomy and Free Will

In J. S. Taylor (ed.), Personal Autonomy: New Essays on Personal Autonomy and its Role in Contermporary Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (2004)
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If the incompatibilist is right, determinism annuls free will, but not necessarily autonomy. The possibly deterministic origin of values and beliefs that are objectively grounded does not undermine the autonomy of agents who maintain these for the right reasons. Nonobjective perspectives—preferences about lifestyle, profession, choice of mate— cannot anyway be entirely removed even for an unlimited being. Moreover, if one were lucky to have inherited contingencies that mesh perfectly with the world one happened to inhabit even if it is deterministic, one would have the capacity for perfect autonomy. The extreme incompatibilist position that autonomy requires creation of self ex nihilo is incoherent.



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Bernard Berofsky
Columbia University

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