Autonomy, Authority, and Answerability

Jurisprudence 2 (1):161-179 (2011)
Andrea Westlund
Florida State University
Autonomy seems to require that we engage in practical deliberation and come to our own decisions regarding how we will act. Deference to authority, by contrast, seems to require that we suspend deliberation and do what the authority commands precisely because he or she commands it. How, then, could autonomy be compatible with deference to authority? In his critique of Razian instrumentalism, Stephen Darwall lays the groundwork for a distinctively contractualist answer to this question: the normative force of an authoritative directive depends, he argues, on the addressee's free and rational acceptance of the reason addressed to her. But how are we to make sense of free and rational acceptance, when deference to authority requires that one relinquish deliberative discretion? I attempt to resolve this puzzle by outlining a conception of reasonable trust in authority, which, while contractualist in spirit, makes room for a core element of Raz's instrumentalist account
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DOI 10.5235/204033211796290317
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