Autonomy Within Subservient Careers

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 14 (3):313-328 (2011)
  Copy   BIBTEX


While there is much literature on autonomy and the conditions for its attainment, there is less on how those conditions reflect on agents’ ordinary careers. Most people’s careers involve a great deal of subservient activity that would prevent the kind of control over agents’ actions that autonomy would seem to require. Yet, it would seem strange to deny autonomy to every agent who regularly follows orders at work—to do so would make autonomy a futile ideal. Most contemporary autonomy accounts provide purely theoretical analysis without reference to any practical goal that autonomy could serve. These accounts are likely to resolve this issue in one direction: either almost entirely including or excluding subservient workers from autonomy. Either solution would fail to distinguish agents who sufficiently control their lives, in spite of limited subservience, according to their own standards, from agents for whom subservience precludes a fulfilling life. I suggest the solution lies in a return to goal-oriented autonomy accounts, which can use the goal to distinguish when subservience overwhelms autonomy from when subservience and autonomy can coexist. I present an account that anchors autonomy in the happiness that it provides for agents who sufficiently control their lives as determined by their more important prudential standards. On this account, agents in subservient careers can be autonomous if they determine how to make their careers consistent with their happiness



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 86,403

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Raz on the Right to Autonomy.Nicole Hassoun - 2011 - European Journal of Philosophy 22 (1):96-109.
Autonomy, consent and the law.Sheila McLean - 2010 - New York, N.Y.: Routledge-Cavendish.
Liberal Autonomy.Loren E. Lomasky - 1990 - Philosophy and Theology 4 (3):297-309.
Autonomy and false beliefs.Suzy Killmister - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 164 (2):513-531.
How much should we value autonomy?Marina Oshana - 2003 - Social Philosophy and Policy 20 (2):99-126.
The Many Faces of Autonomy.H. Tristram Engelhardt - 2001 - Health Care Analysis 9 (3):283-297.
Autonomy and plurality.Larry Krasnoff - 2010 - Philosophical Quarterly 60 (241):673-691.


Added to PP

81 (#177,425)

6 months
4 (#244,740)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

James Rocha
California State University, Fresno

References found in this work

Groundwork for the metaphysics of morals.Immanuel Kant - 1785 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by Thomas E. Hill & Arnulf Zweig.
The Morality of Freedom.Joseph Raz - 1986 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Unprincipled virtue: an inquiry into moral agency.Nomy Arpaly - 2003 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Moral realism.Peter Railton - 1986 - Philosophical Review 95 (2):163-207.
The Theory and Practice of Autonomy.Gerald Dworkin - 1988 - New York: Cambridge University Press.

View all 48 references / Add more references