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

James Rocha
Louisiana State University
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
Keywords Autonomy  Subservience  Labor  Welfare  Independence
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DOI 10.1007/s10677-010-9251-x
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References found in this work BETA

The Morality of Freedom.Joseph Raz - 1986 - Oxford University Press.
The Theory and Practice of Autonomy.Gerald Dworkin - 1988 - Cambridge University Press.
Moral Realism.Peter Railton - 1986 - Philosophical Review 95 (2):163-207.

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Citations of this work BETA

Why Did the Butler Do It?Justin F. White - 2022 - European Journal of Philosophy 30 (1):374-393.
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