Journal of Applied Philosophy 34 (1):114-129 (2017)

Fabian Freyenhagen
University of Essex
© 2015 The Authors. Journal of Applied Philosophy published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Society for Applied Philosophy. In this article, I argue that autonomy has to be conceived substantively in order to serve as the qualifying condition for receiving the full set of individual liberal rights. I show that the common distinction between content-neutral and substantive accounts of autonomy is riddled with confusion and ambiguities, and provide a clear alternative taxonomy. At least insofar as we are concerned with liberal settings, the real question is whether or not the value and norm implied by an account of autonomy are acceptable to reasonable people, not whether these accounts are content-neutral, procedural or input-focused. Finally, I demonstrate how substantive constraints are compatible with, or even implied in, the notion of autonomy at play in political liberalism. Overall, I present a normative reconstruction, clarification, and internal critique of liberalism, drawing on case law and statutes from England and Wales.
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DOI 10.1111/japp.12133
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