Christian Seidel
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Autonomy and authority are often regarded as opposites. In this paper, I argue that autonomy should be conceived of as a specific form of (practical) authority and that this perspective is useful for identifying the conditions of personal autonomy. I will first highlight some structural analogies in the functioning of the concepts "autonomy" and "authority" and explain the resulting constraints on accounts of personal autonomy. I will then show that the problems of certain internalist and externalist accounts of autonomy are rooted in a false understanding of the foundation on which the authority that is characteristic of autonomy rests. To conclude, I present an account in which this foundation is given by a person’s maturity (Mündigkeit), defensiveness (Wehrhaftigkeit) and participation (Mitsprache): Thus, a person is autonomous to the extent that she can cope with her own affairs, can defend herself against external encroachments and can participate in common affairs.
Keywords personal autonomy  practical authority
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DOI 10.1524/dzph.2011.0072
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