Philosophy Autonomy
by
James Stacey Taylor
  • LAST REVIEWED: 19 May 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 30 September 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396577-0167

Introduction

In recent years the concept of autonomy has risen to prominence both in action theory and moral philosophy. The term “autonomy” stems from two Greek roots, autos (“self”) and nomos (“rule”), and originally applied to self-ruling city-states. This term is now more usually applied to self-ruling persons, although precisely what it is for a person to be “self-ruling” is a matter for considerable debate. Yet, while the concept of autonomy has really risen to prominence only since the early 1970s, it has a respectable historical pedigree. The first major philosopher in whose work this concept was prominent was Immanuel Kant, who argued that a person was autonomous only when she acted from the essential nature of her will. Thus, since a person’s desires are not part of this, a person will be autonomous only when she is motivated by impersonal considerations—when she acts out of respect for the moral law. In contrast to Kant’s impersonal account of moral autonomy, most current writers focus on what is required for a person to be autonomous in the sense of directing her own life in accordance with her own desires and values. This approach has primarily focused on what criteria must be met for a person’s desires and values to be her “own” in the sense required for her to be autonomous with respect to them, rather than to be alienated from them or else merely possessing them agentially, as a small child might possess her desires. Various analyses have been offered here, including those that focus on the agent’s endorsement of her desires, those that focus on the historical process by which she came to have them, and those that focus on their internal coherence. More recently, writers have addressed the role that a person’s social environment might play in determining whether or not she is autonomous with respect to her desires. The debate over what is required for a person to be autonomous is accompanied by a debate over how autonomy is to be valued: whether intrinsically, instrumentally, or some hybrid combination of the two. It is, however, generally agreed that autonomy is valuable, and this is reflected in the prominence of this concept in current discussions of moral and political philosophy, ranging from bioethical discussion of the moral basis of informed consent to issues in political liberalism.

General Overviews

There are several volumes that offer overviews of the current discussion of the nature of autonomy, the way in which it should be valued, and its importance for contemporary moral and political philosophy. An excellent early overview of the current discussion of autonomy is provided in Christman 1989. In addition to providing a helpful overview of the debate over personal autonomy up to 1989, Christman also provides a useful outline of the current debates concerning Kantian autonomy, autonomy and utility, and the value of autonomy. A similar but more recent overview of the discussion of autonomy is contained in Taylor 2005, in which the discussion of autonomy and its role in moral philosophy (to 2004) is outlined. An overview of the discussion of autonomy within modern liberalism is provided in John Christman and Joel Anderson’s “Introduction” to their anthology Autonomy and the Challenges to Liberalism (Christman and Anderson 2005). An overview of feminist approaches to autonomy, agency, and the socially embedded self is given in Mackenzie and Stoljar 2000. The most recent overview of current discussions of autonomy is provided in Sneddon 2013.

  • Christman, John. “Introduction.” In The Inner Citadel: Essays on Individual Autonomy. Edited by John Christman, 3–23. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.

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    Christman provides a very useful overview of the debate concerning the nature and value of autonomy that was current until the time of publication.

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    • Christman, John, and Joel Anderson. “Introduction.” In Autonomy and the Challenges to Liberalism: New Essays. Edited by John Christman and Joel Anderson, 1–23. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

      DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511610325.003Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Christman and Anderson provide a very useful outline of autonomy theory to 2004, linking this to issues within discussions of political liberalism.

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      • Mackenzie, Catriona, and Natalie Stoljar. “Introduction: Autonomy Refigured.” In Relational Autonomy: Feminist Perspectives on Autonomy, Agency, and the Social Self. Edited by Catriona Mackenzie and Natalie Stoljar, 3–31. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

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        Mackenzie and Stoljar place the relational analyses of autonomy that are outlined within their volume in the context both of feminist thought and contemporaneous analyses of autonomy.

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        • Sneddon, Andrew. Autonomy. Bloomsbury Ethics. New York: Bloomsbury, 2013.

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          This is primarily an introduction to current autonomy theory, although Sneddon also develops his own account on which deep connections to others can make a person more rather than less autonomous.

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          • Taylor, James Stacey, ed. Personal Autonomy: New Essays on Personal Autonomy and Its Role in Contemporary Moral Philosophy. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

            DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511614194Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

            Taylor provides an overview of current discussions both of the nature of personal autonomy and its role in discussions of moral responsibility, and applied ethics.

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            Anthologies

            In addition to the anthologies noted in General Overviews, which include Christman 1989, Christman and Anderson 2005, Mackenzie and Stoljar 2000, and Taylor 2005, there is an excellent anthology of recent work on autonomy in Paul, et al. 2003, edited by Ellen Frankel Paul, Fred Miller Jr., and Jeffrey Paul. A more focused anthology that addresses the work of Harry G. Frankfurt is Buss and Overton 2002, while another anthology focused on autonomy and its relationship to mental disorder is Radoilska 2012. In addition to these anthologies of papers written by diverse contributors, there are also four anthologies that showcase the work of their editors. Two of the most prominent writers in the current discussion of autonomy are Harry G. Frankfurt and Gerald Dworkin. Frankfurt 1988 showcases Frankfurt’s early work, in his anthology The Importance of What We Care About, while Frankfurt 1999, Necessity, Volition, and Love, represents Frankfurt’s later work. Dworkin’s work on the nature and value of autonomy and its importance in various areas of applied ethics is gathered in Dworkin 1988. A selection of Michael Bratman’s more-recent, important work on agency and self-governance is collected in the anthology Structures of Agency (Bratman 2007).

            • Bratman, Michael E. Structures of Agency: Essays. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

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              This contains a selection of Bratman’s essays that are aimed at understanding the interrelationships that hold between persons as planning agents, self-governing agents, and temporally extended agents.

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              • Buss, Sarah, and Lee Overton, eds. Contours of Agency: Essays on Themes from Harry Frankfurt. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2002.

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                These essays address various themes in Harry Frankfurt’s rich and provocative corpus, ranging from his compatibilist account of freedom of the will to his views on identification; each is accompanied by a response from Frankfurt. Of particular note are the essays by Michael E. Bratman, J. David Velleman, Gary Watson, Richard Moran, and Susan Wolf.

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                • Dworkin, Gerald. The Theory and Practice of Autonomy. Cambridge Studies in Philosophy. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

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                  Dworkin offers theoretical discussions of the nature and value of autonomy and explores the import that these have for various practical issues, including proxy consent, informed consent, paternalism, and criminal entrapment.

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                  • Frankfurt, Harry G. The Importance of What We Care About: Philosophical Essays. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

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                    Gathers together Frankfurt’s most influential early work on identification, free action, externality, and moral responsibility.

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                    • Frankfurt, Harry G. Necessity, Volition, and Love. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

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                      This collects some of Frankfurt’s influential later work, including his analysis of identification as satisfaction, the usefulness of final ends, and the necessity of ideals. It also includes some of his influential work on Descartes.

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                      • Paul, Ellen Frankel, Fred D. Miller Jr., and Jeffrey Paul, eds. Autonomy. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

                        DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511550119Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                        This primarily focuses on analyses of the concept of personal autonomy but also includes papers on abortion and autonomy, Stoic autonomy, and Kantian autonomy, as well as the relationship among autonomy, duress, and coercion. See pp. 99–126.

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                        • Radoilska, Lubomira, ed. Autonomy and Mental Disorder. International Perspectives in Philosophy and Psychiatry. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.

                          DOI: 10.1093/med/9780199595426.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                          Contains a series of papers that explore the nature and value of autonomy with reference to its relationship with mental disorder; these papers are written both by philosophers and by psychiatrists.

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                          Kantian Autonomy

                          The first major philosopher to outline the nature and value of autonomy was Immanuel Kant, who developed his account of autonomy in response to earlier philosophical work on the nature and value of persons; see Kant 1993 and Schneewind 1998. It was noted above that there is an important difference between Kantian autonomy and personal autonomy—although for dissenting views, see Waldron 2005 and Darwall 2006. Kant’s view that rational human wills are autonomous lay at the heart of his moral theory, as Holtman 2009 notes. For Kant, a person was autonomous when her actions expressed her own will, and not that of another, or of some external influence. Kant’s view that autonomy of the will was incompatible with its being subject to external influence, together with his belief that the empirical aspects of persons were subject to the deterministic laws of the natural order, led him to hold that persons did not act autonomously when their actions sprung from their natural desires or inclinations; see Hill 1989 and Guyer 2003. For Kant, then, a person acts autonomously when she wills herself to act in a way that any rational agent could will herself to act; see Reath 2006. To be autonomous for Kant is thus to will oneself to act in accordance with a law that could be universalized to govern the actions of all rational agents, independently of their particular desires or inclinations. Kant believed that this requirement on autonomous action was connected to his first formulation of the categorical imperative, which held that persons should always act on those maxims that they could consistently will to be universal law. Kant’s account of autonomy was thus thoroughly impersonal and also connected to his moral philosophy, which has led to its being termed an account of moral autonomy.

                          • Darwall, Stephen. “The Value of Autonomy and Autonomy of the Will.” Ethics 116.2 (2006): 263–284.

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                            Darwall argues that despite appearances there is a deep connection between Kantian autonomy and personal autonomy, where the latter is understood as the making of one’s own choices and the living of one’s own life. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                            • Guyer, Paul. “Kant on the Theory and Practice of Autonomy.” In Autonomy. Edited by Ellen Frankel Paul, Fred D. Miller Jr., and Jeffrey Paul, 70–98. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

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                              Guyer claims that Kant sees autonomy as the condition that is necessary to achieve and maintain freedom, and that autonomy must be understood as an aim that a person with free will must adopt if he is to promote and preserve his freedom of choice and action. In so doing, he provides a study both of Kant’s theory of autonomy and of his conception of the practice of autonomy.

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                              • Hill, Thomas E., Jr. “The Kantian Conception of Autonomy.” In The Inner Citadel: Essays on Individual Autonomy. Edited by John Christman, 91–105. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.

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                                Hill offers an account of the Kantian conception of autonomy.

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                                • Holtman, Sarah. “Autonomy and the Kingdom of Ends.” In The Blackwell Guide to Kant’s Ethics. Edited by Thomas E. Hill Jr., 102–117. Blackwell Guides to Great Works 7. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.

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                                  Holtman discusses Kant’s formula of autonomy.

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                                  • Kant, Immanuel. Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals: With on a Supposed Right to Lie Because of Philanthropic Concerns. 3d ed. Translated by James W. Ellington. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, 1993.

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                                    Kant outlines his view that autonomy of the will is the supreme principle of morality.

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                                    • Reath, Andrews. Agency & Autonomy in Kant’s Moral Theory: Selected Essays. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.

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                                      Reath presents a selection of his essays on Kant’s moral psychology and moral theory, with a particular focus on Kant’s account of autonomy and rational agency.

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                                      • Schneewind, J. B. The Invention of Autonomy: A History of Modern Moral Philosophy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

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                                        Schneewind seeks to enhance and deepen our understanding of Kant’s moral philosophy, by placing it within the context of the earlier work that it was responding to.

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                                        • Waldron, Jeremy. “Moral Autonomy and Personal Autonomy.” In Autonomy and the Challenges to Liberalism: New Essays. Edited by John Christman and Joel Anderson, 307–329. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

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                                          Waldron questions whether the sharp distinction between Kantian moral autonomy and personal autonomy is possible, and also whether it is desirable.

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                                          Early Hierarchical Analyses of Autonomy

                                          In the early to mid-1970s, several articles were published that advanced hierarchical analyses of the following concepts: of what it was to identify with one’s effective first-order desires, which was developed in Frankfurt 1971; of what it was to act freely or autonomously, developed in Dworkin 1970; and of freedom, developed in Neely 1974. These analyses shared the view that to identify with one’s desires, to act autonomously, or to be free with respect to one’s acts, it was necessary that one endorse them from the vantage point of a higher-order evaluative attitude. In Frankfurt 1971, “Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person,” Harry Frankfurt developed an analysis of what it is for a person to “identify with” those of her first-order desires that led her either to act or to refrain from acting. On this analysis, a person would identify with her effective first-order desire that x be the case if she both desired to have the desire that x and wanted that her desire that x actually move her to act—if she volitionally endorsed her effective first-order desire. This analysis is later developed in Frankfurt 1988. In Dworkin 1970 (“Acting Freely”), Gerald Dworkin developed his hierarchical analysis of what it is to act freely and (relatedly) of what it is to act autonomously. Focusing on why a person would not perform an act freely when she performed it only because she was coerced into so doing, Dworkin held that a person would act freely only when he acted for reasons that he did not mind acting from. Dworkin later developed this early hierarchical analysis, of what it was for a person to act freely, into his first explicit analysis of autonomy, in “Autonomy and Behavior Control” (Dworkin 1976). Dworkin argued that a person is autonomous if he does “his own thing,” where the attitude that he takes toward the springs of his action determines whether or not they are his own—whether they are authentically his. In addition to this authenticity condition, Dworkin required that for a person to be autonomous she must be both procedurally and substantively independent in her motivations. A person would be procedurally independent if she was not manipulated or deceived, or subject to similar malign influences on her choice of action; she would be substantively independent if she had not abdicated her independence of thought or action to another.

                                          • Dworkin, Gerald. “Acting Freely.” Nous 4.4 (1970): 367–383.

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                                            Dworkin argues for a hierarchical analysis of autonomy (here, presented as an analysis of what it is to act freely), in the context of a discussion of the relationship between freedom and coercion. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                            • Dworkin, Gerald. “Autonomy and Behavior Control.” Hastings Center Report 6.1 (1976): 23–28.

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                                              Dworkin develops his hierarchical account of what it is for a person to be autonomous. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                              • Frankfurt, Harry G. “Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person.” Journal of Philosophy 68.1 (1971): 5–20.

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                                                Frankfurt is perhaps the most influential article in contemporary discussions of autonomy. Here, Frankfurt outlines his initial hierarchical analysis of what it is for a person to “identify with” her effective first-order desires. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                • Frankfurt, Harry G. “Identification and Externality.” In The Importance of What We Care About: Philosophical Essays. By Harry G. Frankfurt, 58–68. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

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                                                  Frankfurt attempts to account for the difference between a person’s arm rising and a person raising his arm. In so doing, he attempts to provide an account of how to distinguish between those mental events that are internal to a person (those that she identifies with) and those that are in an important sense external to her.

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                                                  • Neely, Wright. “Freedom and Desire.” Philosophical Review 83.1 (1974): 32–54.

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                                                    Neely offers an analysis of freedom in terms of hierarchies of desire. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                    Criticisms of Early Hierarchical Analyses of Autonomy

                                                    While influential, the early hierarchical analyses of autonomy were subject to several major criticisms, which led their original proponents, and others, to develop them in order to avoid the difficulties that beset them. The three most prominent of these objections were the Problem of Manipulation and, discussed jointly herein, the Regress-cum-Incompleteness Problem and the Problem of Authority.

                                                    The Problem of Manipulation

                                                    One of the major initial objections to Frankfurt’s early account of identification and similar ahistorical analyses of autonomy and freedom of the will, as Kapitan 2000 notes, was the problem of manipulation. Frankfurt’s initial analysis of identification was an ahistorical analysis, such that a person could be said to identify with a desire independently either of its history or the history of the process by which she came to volitionally endorse it. As such, the proponents of the problem of manipulation—such as Christman 1989—charge that Frankfurt is committed to holding that a person who is moved to act by a desire that has been inculcated into her (by, for example, a nefarious neurosurgeon) would be said to identify with it, provided that she desired to have it and desired that it move her to act. This in itself makes Frankfurt’s view implausible, such critics charge, but what makes Frankfurt’s initial analysis of identification even more implausible is the fact that this would be true even if these endorsing attitudes had themselves been inculcated into her by the neurosurgeon at the same time at which she inculcated the first-order desire that they endorsed. While Dworkin’s requirement that persons enjoy procedural independence to be autonomous precludes his hierarchical account of autonomy from being directly subject to the problem of manipulation (since this requirement explicitly precludes a person who is manipulated from being autonomous), it does so at the cost of encountering the charge that this requirement is merely ad hoc, because Dworkin 1976 (cited under Early Hierarchical Analyses of Autonomy) states merely that a person is not autonomous if she is subject to “manipulation, deception . . . and so on.” For this to be a complete account of autonomy, then, Dworkin must both spell out what the “and so on” clause refers to, and provide a principled explanation of why these forms of interpersonal interaction would compromise the autonomy of the persons subject to them. In addition to this internally invasive version of the problem of manipulation, Thalberg 1989 and Taylor 2003 argue that hierarchical analyses of freedom and autonomy also lack the resources to explain why persons’ freedom or autonomy was diminished when they were subject to cruder forms of manipulation, such as being subject to interpersonal coercion.

                                                    • Christman, John. “Introduction.” In The Inner Citadel: Essays on Individual Autonomy. Edited by John Christman, 3–23. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.

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                                                      Christman outlines and explains both of the early hierarchical approaches to analyzing autonomy that were developed by Frankfurt and Dworkin, together with the initial set of criticisms that they were faced with—including the problem of manipulation.

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                                                      • Kapitan, Tomis. “Autonomy and Manipulated Freedom.” Philosophical Perspectives 14 (2000): 81–103.

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                                                        Kapitan focuses on manipulation arguments in the context of compatibilism; it is relevant to the parallel debates concerning autonomy and manipulation—especially insofar as Kapitan criticizes the historical responses to the problem of manipulation that have been developed in both literatures. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                        • Taylor, James Stacey. “Autonomy, Duress, and Coercion.” Social Philosophy & Policy 20.2 (2003): 127–155.

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                                                          Taylor argues that Frankfurt’s and Dworkin’s approaches to analyzing how successfully subjecting a person to coercion fail; he then presents an alternative account of how coercion undermines autonomy. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                          • Thalberg, Irving. “Hierarchical Analyses of Unfree Action.” In The Inner Citadel: Essays on Individual Autonomy. Edited by John Christman, 123–136. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.

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                                                            Thalberg argues that the hierarchical analyses of Frankfurt and Dworkin are mistaken because they cannot properly account for the view that a person’s autonomy with respect to her actions is diminished when she is successfully coerced into acting.

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                                                            The Regress-cum-Incompleteness Problem and the Problem of Authority

                                                            Frankfurt’s initial analysis of identification also faced the regress-cum-incompleteness problem. On this analysis, a person identifies with her effective first-order desire if she desires it, and if she desires that it motivate her to act. But this begs the question of the criteria that must be met for a person to identify with her second-order desire that has her original first-order desire as its object, since if the endorsement of this second-order desire is to establish that the person in question identifies with the first-order desire that is in question, then she must identify with this second-order desire. However, as Christman 1989 outlines, if the person identifies with her second-order desire through endorsing it with a third-order desire and also desiring that it move her to act, a regress is entered into, because then the very same question of how the person identifies with her third-order desire will reappear with respect to this higher conative level. If, however, the answer is that she identifies with her higher-order desire through some other means, then Frankfurt’s initial analysis of identification is incomplete. It would be open to Frankfurt simply to stipulate that the volitional endorsement of a first-order desire at the second-order level is simply constitutive of identification, and thus that no further questions should be raised. But this would lead to a further problem—the problem of authority. As Watson 1989 and Friedman 1986 argue, and as Bratman 2003 observes, since a person’s second-order desires are simply themselves desires, why should they possess any privileged place over their first-order brethren? Dworkin’s initial analyses of acting freely and of autonomy are also subject to the regress-cum-incompleteness problem: One might ask whether the person who endorsed his effective motivation to act was autonomous with respect to this endorsement, a question that would require either the same analysis to be repeated for the higher-order attitude in question (the regress) or else some further analysis that Dworkin has yet to provide (the incompleteness) of why he was autonomous with respect to it. And these analyses are also subject to the problem of authority because the question of why a person’s higher-order attitudes possess authority over those at a lower level requires explanation. More-recent work, such as Cuypers 2000, seeks to defend the hierarchical analyses of autonomy against the regress-cum-incompleteness problem.

                                                            • Bratman, Michael E. “A Desire of One’s Own.” Journal of Philosophy 100.5 (2003): 221–242.

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                                                              Bratman notes that Frankfurt’s hierarchical account of how to identify desires that in some sense one disowns is subject to a Platonic challenge: Why not focus on the evaluative judgments that inform the higher-order attitudes that endorse or repudiate the lower-order desires rather than on these attitudes themselves? Bratman argues that while there should be a connection between the higher-order and evaluative attitudes an agent has, the Platonic challenge to the hierarchical approach to autonomy can be met. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                              • Christman, John. “Introduction.” In The Inner Citadel: Essays on Individual Autonomy. Edited by John Christman, 3–23. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.

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                                                                Christman outlines and explains both of the early hierarchical approaches to analyzing autonomy that were developed by Frankfurt and Dworkin, and explains how they are faced with the Regress-cum-Incompleteness objection and the Problem of Authority.

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                                                                • Cuypers, Stefaan E. “Autonomy beyond Voluntarism: In Defense of Hierarchy.” Canadian Journal of Philosophy 30.2 (2000): 225–256.

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                                                                  Cuypers reconstructs Frankfurt’s early hierarchical approach to analyzing identification and argues that it can be defended against the regress-cum-incompleteness problem. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                  • Friedman, Marilyn A. “Autonomy and the Split-Level Self.” Southern Journal of Philosophy 24.1 (1986): 19–35.

                                                                    DOI: 10.1111/j.2041-6962.1986.tb00434.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                    Friedman questions why we should privilege higher-order evaluative attitudes over first-order desires when assessing which attitudes a person is to be identified with. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                    • Watson, Gary. “Free Agency.” In The Inner Citadel: Essays on Individual Autonomy. Edited by John Christman, 109–112. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.

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                                                                      Watson argues that merely having a higher-order desire that endorses a lower-order desire does not suffice to identify those desires that a person is autonomous with respect to, because disapproval of a desire at a higher-order level could merely reflect a conflict of desires. By contrast, Watson argues, the key to identifying when a person’s motivations are truly his own lies in distinguishing between valuing and desiring.

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                                                                      Wholehearted Identification

                                                                      Acknowledging both the regress-cum-incompleteness problem and the problem of authority, Frankfurt 1988a attempts to respond to them by developing an account of decisive identification. Frankfurt held that a person would identify with his effective first-order desire if he endorsed it at the second-order level wholeheartedly, believing that no further inquiry could lead him to revise his view of it. Frankfurt believed that this account of identification would avoid the regress-cum-incompleteness problem because he believed that it would preclude the possibility of the question of whether the person identified with his second-order desire as being an open one. He also believed that it would avoid the problem of authority because the authority of the endorsing desire would be secured by its decisiveness. The problem of manipulation, however, is still a live one for Frankfurt’s account of decisive identification, since it is possible that a person might be manipulated into decisively identifying with an inculcated desire. This possibility shows that this revised account of identification can circumvent neither the regress-cum-incompleteness problem nor the problem of authority. It cannot circumvent the regress-cum-incompleteness problem since the possibility of a person’s failing to identify with her decisive endorsement means that the question of whether she does or not can be raised—and thus either a further level of endorsement must be appealed to in order to settle this issue, or else a separate condition must be met for her to be identified with her decisive endorsement. Similarly, since a person’s decisive endorsement could be the result of inculcation, it cannot itself be authoritative for determining whether or not any given first-order desire is one that she identifies with. These difficulties notwithstanding, Frankfurt’s work on wholeheartedness was important for modern autonomy theory in that it laid the foundations for later work both by himself in Frankfurt 1988b, Frankfurt 1999a, Frankfurt 1999b, and Frankfurt 2006, and by others, such as in Cuypers 1998, Shoemaker 2003, and Davenport 2007, which are on volitional necessity, caring, and unthinkability.

                                                                      • Cuypers, Stefaan E. “Harry Frankfurt on the Will, Autonomy and Necessity.” Ethical Perspectives 5.1 (1998): 44–52.

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                                                                        Cuypers distinguishes between the various ways in which the term “will” is used in Frankfurt’s work (to 1998), and he places these within the context of Frankfurt’s work on volitional necessity.

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                                                                        • Davenport, John. Will as Commitment and Resolve: An Existential Account of Creativity, Love, Virtue, and Happiness. New York: Fordham University Press, 2007.

                                                                          DOI: 10.5422/fso/9780823225750.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                          Davenport offers an insightful discussion of Frankfurt’s work on caring, identification, and commitment.

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                                                                          • Frankfurt, Harry G. “Identification and Wholeheartedness.” In The Importance of What We Care About: Philosophical Essays. By Harry G. Frankfurt, 159–176. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1988a.

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                                                                            Frankfurt responds to criticisms of his early hierarchical account (in particular that it suffers from a regress problem), by developing the idea of decisive identification.

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                                                                            • Frankfurt, Harry G. “Rationality and the Unthinkable.” In The Importance of What We Care About: Philosophical Essays. By Harry G. Frankfurt, 177–190. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1988b.

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                                                                              Frankfurt explores the related concepts of volitional necessity and unthinkability, concepts that come to play a role in his later work on autonomy and constraints.

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                                                                              • Frankfurt, Harry G. “Autonomy, Necessity, and Love.” In Necessity, Volition, and Love. By Harry G. Frankfurt, 129–141. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999a.

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                                                                                Frankfurt continues his discussion of unthinkability and volitional necessity, here linking it explicitly to the concept of personal autonomy.

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                                                                                • Frankfurt, Harry G. “On the Necessity of Ideals.” In Necessity, Volition, and Love. By Harry G. Frankfurt, 108–116. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999b.

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                                                                                  In this article, Frankfurt argues that to be autonomous a person must be subject to motivational constraints that she cannot escape merely by choosing to escape from them.

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                                                                                  • Frankfurt, Harry G. Taking Ourselves Seriously & Getting It Right. Edited by Debra Satz. Comments by Christine M. Korsgaard, Michael E. Bratman, and Meir Dan-Cohen. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2006.

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                                                                                    Frankfurt explores in his Tanner Lectures the ways that our capacity to love can play a role in providing an important unity to our agency.

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                                                                                    • Shoemaker, David W. “Caring, Identification, and Agency.” Ethics 114.1 (2003): 88–118.

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                                                                                      Shoemaker responds to the problem of how to distinguish those desires that are a person’s own from those that are alien to her, within a compatibilist framework, by appealing to the relationship that holds between motivation and caring. A surprising result of this discussion is that identification is a matter of degree. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                      Identification and Satisfaction

                                                                                      In Frankfurt 1999 Frankfurt recognized that both his early analyses of identification were beset by problems, since they held that a person would identify with her desires by endorsing them through a “deliberate psychic event”—and so, one could always question whether she identified with this. To avoid these difficulties, Frankfurt argued that instead of a person identifying with those of her first-order desires that were truly her own through actively endorsing them, she would identify with them if she merely accepts that it indicates something about herself, and that she is satisfied with this acceptance. Because this form of satisfaction requires merely that the person concerned can have no interest in making changes in her motivational set, it would not be subject to the regress-cum-incompleteness problem. The final component of this analysis of identification does not require any form of active endorsement (but merely passive satisfaction), and so the question of whether the person identifies with it or not does not arise. It is also not subject to the problem of authority, since a person’s satisfaction with her endorsement of her desires is not an authoritative act of endorsement that constitutes them as those that she identifies with, but, instead, is merely the passive failure to reject them as being alien to her (broadly Lockean) self. Frankfurt’s attempt to ground his satisfaction-based account of identification in the self of the person whose desires are in question is echoed in the similarly self-based approaches in Bratman 2003, Bratman 2007, and Cuypers 2001.

                                                                                      • Bratman, Michael E. “Autonomy and Hierarchy.” In Autonomy. Edited by Ellen Frankel Paul, Fred D. Miller Jr., and Jeffrey Paul, 156–176. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

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                                                                                        Bratman considers whether we should accept what he terms the autonomy-hierarchy thesis—the view that a central kind of functioning that can instantiate autonomy in humans involves hierarchy—and he argues that we should.

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                                                                                        • Bratman, Michael E. “Reflection, Planning, and Temporally Extended Agency.” In Structures of Agency: Essays. By Michael E. Bratman, 21–46. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

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                                                                                          Bratman asserts that reflection, the ability to plan, and the view of oneself as being temporally extended are the three most important features of human agency, building on his earlier account of identification to develop a view of this that is based in a Lockean account of personal identity.

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                                                                                          • Cuypers, Stefaan E. Self-Identity and Personal Autonomy: An Analytical Anthropology. Ashgate New Critical Thinking in Philosophy. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2001.

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                                                                                            Cuypers develops an account of autonomy that is based on “passive” self-identification based on one’s constitutive will and social self-evaluation drawn from the recognition of oneself by others.

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                                                                                            • Frankfurt, Harry G. “The Faintest Passion.” In Necessity, Volition, and Love. By Harry G. Frankfurt, 95–107. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

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                                                                                              Frankfurt elaborates his account of identification as wholeheartedness and develops this into his account of identification as satisfaction.

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                                                                                              Dworkin’s Global Approach

                                                                                              Although Dworkin did not directly engage with the major criticisms that his early account of autonomy was subject to, he did later clarify that his account of autonomy was not intended to be an account of what criteria must be met for a person to be autonomous with respect to her particular actions or desires, but an account of autonomy as the capacity of persons to reflect on their first-order motivations (Dworkin 1988). Unlike Frankfurt’s local conception of identification, which was concerned with providing the conditions that must be met for a person to identify with particular motivations, Dworkin’s was a global account of autonomy as a capacity. As such, he claimed that it was not subject to the regress-cum-incompleteness objection, because as long as a person enjoyed procedural independence there would be no need to raise the question of whether she endorsed her higher-order endorsing attitudes—and so, no regress would be entered into. Similarly, Dworkin held that his global hierarchical account of autonomy would not be subject to the problem of authority, since in his view a person’s reflection on and endorsement of her motivating springs of action was simply constitutive of her being autonomous with respect to them. Yet, while this move by Dworkin might help his account of autonomy avoid these two problems, it does so through largely robbing it both of relevance and substance (Haworth 1991). Much of current, mainstream autonomy theory is focused on the question of what conditions must be met for a person to be autonomous with respect to a particular desire, or a particular act. In focusing on what conditions must be met for a person to have a capacity of autonomy rather than on what it is for her to be autonomous with respect to some desire, act, or other punctuate mental or physical occurrence of hers, Dworkin removes his account of autonomy from the mainstream discussion. Moreover, focusing solely on the capacity to reflect Dworkin’s revised account of autonomy identifies only what is widely—but not exclusively (Noggle 1997, for example, rejects this)—agreed to be a necessary condition for autonomy, rather than a complete analysis of this concept. Finally, in focusing on autonomy as a capacity for reflection, Dworkin’s revised account is vulnerable to the problem of manipulation, because successfully subjecting a person to manipulation is compatible with her being fully able to raise the question of whether she wishes to be moved as she is. Othello, for example, retained his capacity to question his own motives even while being subject to the machinations of Iago.

                                                                                              • Dworkin, Gerald. “The Nature of Autonomy.” In The Theory and Practice of Autonomy. By Gerald Dworkin, 3–20. Cambridge Studies in Philosophy. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

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                                                                                                Dworkin criticizes his own early hierarchical approach to analyzing autonomy and offers instead an account of autonomy as a capacity for reflection.

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                                                                                                • Haworth, Lawrence. “Dworkin on Autonomy.” Ethics 102.1 (1991): 129–139.

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                                                                                                  Haworth offers insightful criticisms of Gerald Dworkin’s analysis of autonomy as a capacity for self-reflection. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                  • Noggle, Robert. “The Public Conception of Autonomy and Critical Self-Reflection.” Southern Journal of Philosophy 35.4 (1997): 495–515.

                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1111/j.2041-6962.1997.tb00850.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                    Noggle argues that critical self-reflection—often taken to be a hallmark of autonomy—is actually ruled out as a requirement for autonomy by certain liberal principles that operate in contexts where autonomy is often taken to play an important role. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                    Christman’s Historical Analyses

                                                                                                    To avoid the problem of manipulation, historical analyses of autonomy emphasize the processes by which the agents in question came to have the relevant mental states, rather than focusing on the attitudes that a person took toward his motivations only at the time of their occurrence. The best-known such historical analysis of autonomy is that developed in Christman 1991, Christman 1993, and Christman 2001. For John Christman, a person is autonomous with respect to some desire D at time t if she did not resist its development or would not have resisted it had she attended to its development; this lack of resistance did not take place under the influence of factors that would inhibit self-reflection, the self-reflection in question is minimally rational and involved no self-deception, and at time t the agent does not experience any “manifest conflicts of desires or beliefs that significantly affect the agent’s behavior and that are not subsumed under some otherwise rational plan of action,” as Christman wrote in Christman 1993. This last condition for a person to be autonomous with respect to one of her desires, D, was added by Christman in response to objections offered against his account in Mele 1993. Alfred Mele argued that even if a person satisfied Christman’s first three conditions with respect to a desire D, this would not suffice for her to be autonomous with respect to it, because it might be possible that while she was autonomous with respect to D during its initial acquisition (at t > n), she might not be autonomous with respect to it at t. A person might, for example, have satisfied Christman’s initial three conditions for her to have been autonomous with respect to the development of a desire for a particular drug at t > 1. However, she later comes to believe that the drug does not fit into her current life plans, and she decides that the desire for it is no longer one that she wishes to possess. If the desire were to retain its grip on her, she would not be autonomous with respect to it. To avoid such counterexamples, Christman added in the final condition. It thus appears desirable for historical analyses of autonomy to provide an account not only of how a person is autonomous with respect to her desires at the point of their initial acquisition, but also of how she maintains her autonomy with respect to them (see Weimer 2009)—although it might not be problematic for them if they do not (see Noggle 1995, Mele 2001, Mele 2005, Cuypers 2000).

                                                                                                    • Christman, John. “Autonomy and Personal History.” Canadian Journal of Philosophy 21.1 (1991): 1–24.

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                                                                                                      Christman offers the first articulation of his historical account of personal autonomy. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                      • Christman, John. “Defending Historical Autonomy: A Reply to Professor Mele.” Canadian Journal of Philosophy 23.2 (1993): 281–289.

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                                                                                                        Christman responds to Alfred Mele’s counterexamples to his original historical account of autonomy, adding a maintenance condition to his account. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                        • Christman, John. “Liberalism, Autonomy, and Self-Transformation.” Social Theory and Practice 27.2 (2001): 185–206.

                                                                                                          DOI: 10.5840/soctheorpract20012729Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                          Christman develops his historical account of autonomy into an account of autonomy as non-alienation, or authenticity, holding that a person is autonomous if she is minimally competent and is authentic in the sense of not feeling alienated from her motive values after reflecting on them and how she came to have them. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                          • Cuypers, Stefaan E. “Alfred Mele’s Voluntaristic Conception of Autonomy.” In Moral Responsibility and Ontology. Edited by Ton van den Beld, 259–270. Library of Ethics and Applied Philosophy 7. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic, 2000.

                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1007/978-94-017-2361-9_19Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                            Cuypers addresses what he finds to be a paradox in modern discussions of autonomy—namely, that on one view of autonomy a person P in mental state M is autonomous, whereas on another view of autonomy she is not—through considering Mele’s historical account of autonomy.

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                                                                                                            • Mele, Alfred R. “History and Personal Autonomy.” Canadian Journal of Philosophy 23.2 (1993): 271–280.

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                                                                                                              Mele argues that the historical analysis of autonomy in Christman 1991 is flawed, since it would deem autonomous persons who intuitively used to be autonomous with respect to some pro-attitude, but who are no longer. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                              • Mele, Alfred R. Autonomous Agents: From Self-Control to Autonomy. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1093/0195150430.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                In this justly influential volume, Mele argues that even an ideally self-controlled agent would not be autonomous. He then examines what else is needed for autonomy, and provides two overlapping accounts—one directed at compatibilists and one at noncompatibilists.

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                                                                                                                • Mele, Alfred R. “Agnostic Autonomism Revisited.” In Personal Autonomy: New Essays on Personal Autonomy and Its Role in Contemporary Moral Philosophy. Edited by James Stacey Taylor, 109–123. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

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                                                                                                                  Mele continues here to defend the claim—first defended in Autonomous Agents (Mele 2001)—that the claim that there are autonomous agents is more credible than the claim that there are not.

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                                                                                                                  • Noggle, Robert. “Autonomy, Value, and Conditioned Desire.” American Philosophical Quarterly 32.1 (1995): 57–69.

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                                                                                                                    In this article Noggle provides a nonhierarchical historical analysis of how to distinguish alien for non-alien desires. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                    • Weimer, Steven. “Beyond History: The Ongoing Aspects of Autonomy.” Journal of Ethics & Social Philosophy 4.1 (2009): 1–31.

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                                                                                                                      Weimer argues in favor of including, in historical analyses of autonomy, conditions for identifying when a person continues to be autonomous with respect to her desires, and not just focusing on the conditions required for her to be autonomous with respect to their initial development.

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                                                                                                                      Bratman’s Lockean Approach to Identification

                                                                                                                      Christman’s introduction of what might be termed a “maintenance condition” for a person to be autonomous with respect to her desires is also reflected in Michael Bratman’s analysis of what it is for a person to identify with—to be autonomous with respect to—her desires. In Bratman 1996 and Bratman 2007, it is necessary but not sufficient for a person to be autonomous with respect to one of her desires, D, that she treat it as being reason giving (in the sense of being end setting) in the relevant circumstances. A person’s treatment of a desire as being reason giving in this sense will fail to suffice for her to be autonomous with respect to it, precisely for the reasons observed by Mele in his exchange with Christman: that persons are not necessarily autonomous with respect to the desires that they treat as being reason giving, if these desires conflict with other standing decisions concerning which desires to treat as being reason giving. Thus, for Bratman, one must not only treat a desire as being reason giving to be autonomous with respect to it, but one must also be satisfied with it, where this satisfaction results from a lack of conflict between the desire in question and one’s standing decisions, policies, or intentions concerning the treatment of one’s desires as being reason giving. Thus far, Bratman’s account of autonomy might appear to be an ahistorical account, and hence subject to the problem of manipulation. However, Bratman avoids this problem by basing his account of what constitutes a person’s decisions, policies, and intentions on his broadly Lockean account of personal identity, requiring that for a person to be autonomous with respect to a certain desire, it must originate from herself in an appropriate way; in this way, his account of identification is similar to that in Berofsky 1995. This requirement not only affords Bratman the ability to defend his analysis of autonomy against the problem of manipulation, but it also enables him to respond to the problem of authority, because since a person’s standing decisions, policies, and intentions are constitutive of herself, they possess the authority for her that they need to aid in adjudicating between which of her desires she is autonomous with respect to and which she is not.

                                                                                                                      • Berofsky, Bernard. Liberation from Self: A Theory of Personal Autonomy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

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                                                                                                                        Berofsky argues that rather than holding that a person is autonomous to the extent that her desires originate from her “true” self, we should view autonomous agents as those who are free both from the pernicious effects of others on their lives, and from the similarly pernicious effects of their past lives.

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                                                                                                                        • Bratman, Michael E. “Identification, Decision, and Treating as a Reason.” Philosophical Topics 24.2 (1996): 1–18.

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                                                                                                                          Bratman argues that a person will identify with a desire of hers if she treats as being reason giving in the sense of being end setting, and where it does not conflict with one’s standing policies concerning which desires to treat as being end setting. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                          • Bratman, Michael E. “Reflection, Planning, and Temporally Extended Agency.” In Structures of Agency: Essays. By Michael E. Bratman, 21–46. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195187717.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                            Bratman develops his account of identification that is based on a Lockean view of personal identity, arguing that the three most important features of human agency are reflection, the ability to plan, and the view of oneself as being temporally extended.

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                                                                                                                            Raz’s Analysis and Political Liberalism

                                                                                                                            Just as Christman and Bratman believe that the historical origins of a person’s desires are important for assessing whether she is autonomous with respect to them, so too does Joseph Raz. And just as Dworkin is concerned with global, rather than local, autonomy, Raz’s primary concern is with the autonomous life, which he holds to be the ideal of autonomy. In Raz 2009, the conditions that must be met for a person to have the capacity to be autonomous consist of three distinct components: the appropriate mental abilities, an adequate range of options, and independence. Colburn 2010 endorses a similar account of autonomy. Given these conditions, Raz’s views on the nature and value of autonomy are closely tied to the tradition of political liberalism, having clear roots in the view in Mill 1978 concerning the importance of individuality for human well-being, and the consequent need for society to support persons in the pursuit of their own interests and commitments, provided that these are compossible with similar freedoms for all. Mill’s concern with individuality leads him to support the Harm Principle, which holds that persons should be free from interference, providing that their actions do not harm others; Raz endorses this, also, but goes further, being concerned not with autonomous agency per se, but with valuable autonomous agency. On this more perfectionist approach to political liberalism, an autonomy-supporting culture should support an adequate range of worthwhile options, not simply an adequate range of options simpliciter; a view that has been expanded and defended in Wall 1998. Against this type of autonomy-based liberal perfectionism, Quong 2011 argues that Raz’s combination of the two claims that there is no value in autonomous choice per se, but only in valuable autonomous choice, and that autonomy requires independence, poses problems for his view that respect for autonomy both justifies the harm principle and allows perfectionist policies. Quong argues that since autonomy requires independence, any version of the harm principle that is justified by the value of autonomy should stand as a bulwark against any form of manipulation—including the type of perfectionist manipulation proposed by Raz.

                                                                                                                            • Colburn, Ben. Autonomy and Liberalism. Routledge Studies in Contemporary Philosophy 19. New York: Routledge, 2010.

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                                                                                                                              Colburn argues that we should consider political liberalism to be committed to the value of autonomy. He then draws out the implications of this autonomy-based approach for various issues in economic and social policy.

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                                                                                                                              • Mill, John Stuart. On Liberty. 8th ed. Edited by Elizabeth Rapaport. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, 1978.

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                                                                                                                                Mill argues that no one is justified in coercively interfering with the liberty of action of another unless it is to prevent harm to others. Originally published in 1859 (London: John W. Parker & Son); republished in English as recently as 2012 (New York: Cambridge University Press).

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                                                                                                                                • Quong, Jonathan. Liberalism without Perfection. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

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                                                                                                                                  Quong begins in the first part of this book by criticizing the position of liberal perfectionism. He then goes on to defend a distinctive account of political liberalism that is based on the claim that, to be legitimate, political principles must be publicly justifiable.

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                                                                                                                                  • Raz, Joseph. The Morality of Freedom. Oxford: Clarendon, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                    Raz argues in favor of a distinctive view of the nature and value of autonomy, and he draws upon this to justify a perfectionist liberal political philosophy. Originally published in 1986.

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                                                                                                                                    • Wall, Steven. Liberalism, Perfectionism, and Restraint. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                      Wall argues that we should endorse a version of political perfectionism, and that the state should take a stance on the nature of the good life and promote the flourishing of those within its power.

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                                                                                                                                      Coherentist Analyses

                                                                                                                                      The emphasis of the maintenance condition on the relationship between (1) a desire for which a person’s autonomy with respect to is in question and (2) her other mental states (which are either partially constitutive of her identity or with which she has been autonomous with respect to over a period of time) echoes an alternative, nonhierarchical approach to analyzing autonomy: the coherentist approach. The best-known version of this is that of Laura Waddell Ekstrom, which she developed in Ekstrom 1993 and Ekstrom 2005. A similar approach to autonomy was also developed in Young 1989. Ekstrom focuses on analyzing what it is for a person to be autonomous with respect to her preferences, where a preference is a desire for a particular first-order desire to be effective in action, and where this (second-order) preference has been formed “in the search for what is good.” Drawing on Keith Lehrer’s coherentist epistemology—which led him in Lehrer 2003 to develop a conherentist account of autonomy of his own—Ekstrom holds that a person P will act autonomously when she acts on what Ekstrom terms an authorized preference—a preference that coheres with her other preferences. When a person’s preferences cohere in this way, they will be members of what Ekstrom terms her “true self.” The preferences that constitute a person’s true self will be long lasting because they are supported by reasons. They will also be defensible against external challenges and will also be those that P has no resistance to owning. Ekstrom’s coherentist analysis faces difficulties, as Levinsson 2008 argues. For example, one might question whether Ekstrom has provided an analysis of autonomy or merely one of authenticity. A person might, for example, have a set of coherent preferences that lead her to prefer to submit to the authority of another rather than to direct her own life. When she acts on these preferences under the direction of her controller, it is plausible to hold that she acts authentically. But it is not so obvious that she acts autonomously, precisely because she acts under the direction of another.

                                                                                                                                      • Ekstrom, Laura Waddell. “A Coherence Theory of Autonomy.” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 53.3 (1993): 599–616.

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                                                                                                                                        Ekstrom outlines and defends her coherentist account of personal autonomy. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                        • Ekstrom, Laura Waddell. “Autonomy and Personal Integration.” In Personal Autonomy: New Essays on Personal Autonomy and Its Role in Contemporary Moral Philosophy. Edited by James Stacey Taylor, 143–161. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                          Ekstrom refines and further defends her coherentist analysis of autonomy.

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                                                                                                                                          • Lehrer, Keith. “Reason and Autonomy.” In Autonomy. Edited by Ellen Frankel Paul, Fred D. Miller Jr., and Jeffrey Paul, 177–198. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511550119.008Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                            Lehrer addresses the paradox of reason: if we are governed by reason we are in bondage to it and not autonomous, but if we are not governed by reason we are not autonomous. His solution is that we have an autonomous preference to be guided by reason in forming our preferences, which results from a “power preference” for one’s preference structure.

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                                                                                                                                            • Levinsson, Henrik. “Autonomy and Metacognition: A Healthcare Perspective.” PhD diss., Lund University, Department of Philosophy, 2008.

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                                                                                                                                              Levinsson examines Ekstrom’s coherentist account of autonomy in chapter 3 of this PhD dissertation and offers a sustained critique of it.

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                                                                                                                                              • Young, Robert. “Autonomy and the Inner Self.” In The Inner Citadel: Essays on Individual Autonomy. Edited by John Christman, 77–90. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.

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                                                                                                                                                Young outlines the relationship between autonomy and the need for an inner coherence among an individual’s concerns. He then applies this discussion to the relationship between autonomy and weakness of will.

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                                                                                                                                                Relational Accounts

                                                                                                                                                The concern that a person who acts under the direction of another is heteronomous, even though her compliance with his directions is fully in accord with her own preference set, has led to the concern that content-neutral (or procedural) analyses of autonomy—ones that do not require persons to endorse or repudiate any particular values to be autonomous—are insufficient and should be supplanted by more-substantive, value-laden analyses, as argued in Meyers 1989, Piper 2012, Richardson 2001, and Kristinsson 2000. In particular, some feminist writers on autonomy, such as Stoljar 2000 and Friedman 2003, have argued that a woman who endorses social norms that oppress women lacks autonomy, even if her endorsement of these norms has occurred without her being subject to any conditions that would inhibit reflection. To be autonomous, then, such writers argue, one must endorse certain value claims, such as the moral equality of persons and the need for social and sexual equality. As well as leading to the development of more-substantive approaches to analyzing autonomy, worries concerning the oppressive social relationships in which women can find themselves have led to the development of analyses of autonomy that stress the importance of interpersonal relations in ascriptions of this property to persons. What might be termed “strong” relational accounts of autonomy hold that since a person’s self is (at least partially) constituted by a person’s relationship to others, and since a person’s self is the font of her autonomy, then a person’s autonomy will be (at least) partially constituted through her relations with others—a position adopted in Oshana 2006. Alternatively, on what might be called a “weak” relational account of autonomy, the question of whether a person is autonomous with respect to some particular desire, act, or value will depend (in part) on her relationships to others; it will also depend (in part) on whether it is she, and not they, who controls what desires she forms and what actions she subsequently performs, as argued in Meyers 1989 and Santiago 2005. (Such weak relational analyses of autonomy could be content neutral, and hence compatible with the claim that a woman could be fully autonomous even though she has internalized social norms.) Because they go beyond reference to the configuration of a person’s own mental states, these relational analyses of autonomy are sometimes dubbed “externalist” analyses, in contrast to the “internalist” accounts of autonomy that assess a person’s autonomy solely by reference to the configurations of her mental states.

                                                                                                                                                • Friedman, Marilyn. Autonomy, Gender, Politics. Studies in Feminist Philosophy. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                  Friedman develops and defends her socially grounded feminist account of autonomy.

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                                                                                                                                                  • Kristinsson, Sigurdur. “The Limits of Neutrality: Toward a Weakly Substantive Account of Autonomy.” Canadian Journal of Philosophy 30.2 (2000): 257–286.

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                                                                                                                                                    Kristinsson argues that autonomous agents must endorse certain values, and hence any satisfactory account of autonomy must be weakly substantive. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Meyers, Diana T. Self, Society, and Personal Choice. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989.

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                                                                                                                                                      Meyers evaluates the claim that many women are less autonomous that most men. She argues that feminists have reason to regard institutions and practices that undermine autonomy to be especially detrimental to women.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Oshana, Marina. Personal Autonomy in Society. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                                        Oshana develops a socio-relational account of autonomy, on which autonomy is constituted by a person’s relations with others and by the absence of certain social relations affecting her life.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Piper, Mark. “Autonomous Agency and Normative Implication.” Journal of Value Inquiry 46.3 (2012): 317–330.

                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1007/s10790-012-9344-ySave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                          Piper argues that agents cannot be autonomous without endorsing some types of substantive normative commitments. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                          • Richardson, Henry S. “Autonomy’s Many Normative Presuppositions.” American Philosophical Quarterly 38.3 (2001): 287–303.

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                                                                                                                                                            Richardson argues that the concept of autonomy is not value neutral but relies for its attribution to persons on various normative presuppositions about the value of the commitments and desires that they possess. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Santiago, John. “Personal Autonomy: What’s Content Got to Do with It?” Social Theory and Practice 31.1 (2005): 77–104.

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                                                                                                                                                              Santiago argues that an overemphasis on an agent’s psychological states has tended to obscure aspects of agency that are external to the mind, and that this has limited the resources that philosophers have drawn upon in developing an account of autonomy that recognizes the social embeddedness of persons. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Stoljar, Natalie. “Autonomy and the Feminist Intuition.” In Relational Autonomy: Feminist Perspectives on Autonomy, Agency, and the Social Self. Edited by Catriona Mackenzie and Natalie Stoljar, 94–111. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

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                                                                                                                                                                Stoljar begins by identifying the “feminist intuition”—that preferences formed by oppressive norms of femininity cannot be autonomous—and then argues that we either have to reject this or else develop a substantive analysis of autonomy.

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                                                                                                                                                                Objections to Relational Accounts

                                                                                                                                                                Both types of relational approaches to analyzing autonomy face serious criticisms. The proponents of strong relational accounts of autonomy are often pressed to explain why a person’s relationship with others is constitutive of autonomy, rather than something that can contribute to its development. It is also held that the fact that a person’s self is (at least partially) constituted through her relationship with others does not support the claim that her autonomy is also thereby partially so constituted. A person’s self might be partially constituted by her relationships with others—whether she exhibits character traits such that she trusts herself to make decisions, is confident in her abilities, and is open to new experiences might be partially owed to her interactions with others and her social environment, as Benson 2005 observes. But this is still compatible with an individualistic model of autonomy, as noted in May 1994. Accepting the insight that a person’s self is partially formed by her relations with others does not thereby commit one to accepting the further claim that such relationships are thereby partially constitutive of her autonomy, which is a point made in Christman 2011. The weak relational approach to analyzing autonomy is also subject to criticism. The proponents of this type of approach to analyzing autonomy hold that a person’s autonomy with respect to her desires and her actions is partly determined by whether it is she, or someone else, who is controlling whether she forms them or performs them. Control is an intentionally characterized concept: A will control B just in case she intends to control B. As such, then, the proponents of weak relational approaches to analyzing autonomy are committed to holding that whether or not someone, O, other than the person, P, whose autonomy is in question, will control what desires P has, and what actions she performs will depend (in part) on what mental states O has—whether or not she is intending to control what P desires and what actions she performs, as Taylor 2004 argues. But to hold that P’s autonomy will depend in part on O’s mental states strikes many as being implausible—for how can what I am thinking have any effect on whether you are autonomous?

                                                                                                                                                                • Benson, Paul. “Feminist Intuitions and the Normative Substance of Autonomy.” In Personal Autonomy: New Essays on Personal Autonomy and Its Role in Contemporary Moral Philosophy. Edited by James Stacey Taylor, 124–142. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                                  Benson outlines Natalie Stoljar’s strong substantive account of autonomy, which is based on a “feminist intuition.” He rejects this, arguing not only that feminists need not accept the intuition the view is founded on, but that there are other reasons to reject this type of substantive account of autonomy. He then develops a weak substantive account of autonomy in its place.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Christman, John. “Autonomy in Moral and Political Philosophy.” In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Edited by Edward N. Zalta. 2011.

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                                                                                                                                                                    Christman outlines various objections that have been offered against relational analyses of personal autonomy.

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                                                                                                                                                                    • May, Thomas. “The Concept of Autonomy.” American Philosophical Quarterly 31.2 (1994): 133–144.

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                                                                                                                                                                      May develops an individualistic “helmsman” model of autonomy that is compatible with understanding persons as social beings. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Taylor, James Stacey. “Autonomy and Informed Consent: A Much Misunderstood Relationship.” Journal of Value Inquiry 38.3 (2004): 383–391.

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                                                                                                                                                                        Taylor argues that a concern for well-being, rather than autonomy, is the basic value that undergirds the doctrine of informed consent. In arguing for this view, he develops an externalist account of autonomy that is based on the view that control is an intentionally characterized concept. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                        The Value of Autonomy

                                                                                                                                                                        There are three main positions taken on how autonomy is to be valued: that autonomy is intrinsically valuable, held in Young 1982, that it is instrumentally valuable, held in Oshana 2003, and that its value is hybrid, with autonomy being valuable both as a means to some other good (and hence not purely intrinsically valuable) and also as partially constitutive of this further good (and hence not purely of instrumental value). Hurka 1987 argues that autonomy is intrinsically valuable because autonomous agents most fully realize the ideal of causally efficacious agency, by determining both how the world is to be and how it is not to be. But as Mills 1998 argues, it is not clear why determining how the world is, and hence how it is not, is of intrinsic value. There is also reason to believe that autonomy is not of intrinsic value, as Hardin 1989 contends. Valdman 2010 argues that the goodness of a person’s life need not be set back in any way if her decisions over how to lead her life were turned over to other persons, provided that these other persons made the decisions for her in a way that reflected her deepest commitments. As such, the value of autonomy is not intrinsic but prudential: What matters is not that a person lives an autonomous life, but that she lives one that is in accord with her values and commitments. If autonomy is only of prudential value, however, as Valdman maintains, it would be relatively easy to justify paternalistic interference in persons’ lives. After all, if autonomy was only of instrumental value for securing the welfare of the person P in whose service it was exercised, if P’s welfare could be secured better in some other way, then there would be no autonomy-based bar to this. Many persons, however, believe that a person’s autonomy should still be respected even if her own exercise of it would be less effective in securing her goals than the paternalistic efforts of others—and that this should be the case even if autonomy is not intrinsically valuable. To justify this position it has been argued that the value of autonomy is hybrid, being valuable both instrumentally as a means to the welfare of the persons who exercise it, and for its own sake, as part of that welfare.

                                                                                                                                                                        • Hardin, Russell. “Autonomy, Identity, and Welfare.” In The Inner Citadel: Essays on Individual Autonomy. Edited by John Christman, 189–199. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.

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                                                                                                                                                                          Hardin addresses the value of autonomy in moral theory and concludes that since the notion is substantively empty, it is not clear if it is desirable.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Hurka, Thomas. “Why Value Autonomy?” Social Theory and Practice 13.3 (1987): 361–382.

                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.5840/soctheorpract198713316Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                            Hurka argues that autonomy is intrinsically valuable. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Mills, Claudia. “Choice and Circumstance.” Ethics 109.1 (1998): 154–165.

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                                                                                                                                                                              Mills responds to the arguments in Hurka 1987 in favor of Hurka’s view that autonomy is intrinsically valuable. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Oshana, Marina. “How Much Should We Value Autonomy?” In Autonomy. Edited by Ellen Frankel Paul, Fred D. Miller Jr., and Jeffrey Paul, 99–126. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                                                Oshana raises the question of what happens if we value autonomy too much. She sees three problems with such an overvaluation of autonomy: We might force people to be autonomous, we might fail to balance autonomy against security, and we might mistakenly think that no incursions on autonomy are justified.

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                                                                                                                                                                                • Valdman, Mikhail. “Outsourcing Self-Government.” Ethics 120.4 (2010): 761–790.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  Valdman argues that autonomy is of prudential, rather than intrinsic, value. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  • Young, Robert. “The Value of Autonomy.” Philosophical Quarterly 32.126 (1982): 35–44.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    Young distinguishes between two ways of valuing autonomy: (1) that the value of autonomy is determined by the value of the objects of choice, and (2) that it is valuable for its own sake. Young argues that while the second way is legitimate, the first is also defensible. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    Autonomy and Constraint

                                                                                                                                                                                    The question of how autonomy is to be valued is related to the question of whether it is ever morally legitimate to constrain a person’s exercise of her autonomy. Some persons argue that respect for personal autonomy requires that persons be prohibited from exercising their autonomy in certain ways, on the grounds that the pursuit of certain options will be likely to lead to a diminution in the ability to exercise autonomy in the future, either that of the person choosing the option, as Hughes 1998 and Hughes 1999 argue, that of others in her socioeconomic class, as Zutlevics 2001 contends, or that of both the chooser and others in her relevant cohort, as Taylor 2004 argues. The relationship between autonomy and constraint also arises with respect to the question of whether full autonomy requires that a person must have chosen the values that guide her autonomous acts, or whether its possession is compatible with a person’s values having been established in a manner that is external to her control, an issue discussed in Aviram 1995, Frankfurt 1999, and Noggle 2005.

                                                                                                                                                                                    • Aviram, Aharon. “Autonomy and Commitment: Compatible Ideals.” Journal of Philosophy of Education 29.1 (1995): 61–73.

                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9752.1995.tb00341.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                      Aviram argues that rather than being opposed, the ideal of autonomy and commitment are complementary. He then applies this position to claim that providing commitments through education is not incompatible with developing children’s autonomy. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      • Frankfurt, Harry G. “On the Usefulness of Final Ends.” In Necessity, Volition, and Love. By Harry G. Frankfurt, 82–94. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        Frankfurt argues that the sharp distinction between means and ends is too rigid, and that a necessary condition for persons to make a rational choice of final ends is that they be in the grip of some antecedent volitional necessity.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        • Hughes, Paul M. “Exploitation, Autonomy, and the Case for Organ Sales.” International Journal of Applied Philosophy 12.1 (1998): 89–95.

                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.5840/ijap19981219Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                          Hughes argues that the option to sell a kidney is likely to be an autonomy-compromising constraining option: one that, if pursued, would be likely to compromise the autonomy of the person pursuing it. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          • Hughes, Paul M. “Paternalism, Battered Women, and the Law.” Journal of Social Philosophy 30.1 (1999): 18–28.

                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1111/0047-2786.t01-1-00002Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                            Hughes argues that the option to refrain from pressing charges against one’s abuser is likely to be an autonomy-compromising constraining option: one that, if pursued, would be likely to compromise the autonomy of the person pursuing it. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            • Noggle, Robert. “Autonomy and the Paradox of Self-Creation: Infinite Regresses, Finite Selves, and the Limits of Authenticity.” In Personal Autonomy: New Essays on Personal Autonomy and Its Role in Contemporary Moral Philosophy. Edited by James Stacey Taylor, 87–108. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              Noggle addresses the regress problem and assesses the “paradox of self-creation.”

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                                                                                                                                                                                              • Taylor, James Stacey. “Plea Bargains, Constraining Options, and Respect for Autonomy.” Public Affairs Quarterly 18.3 (2004): 249–264.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                Taylor argues that the option to plea bargaining is an ultimate constraining option—one that, if chosen, would be likely to compromise the future autonomy both of the person who chose it and others in her relevant cohort. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                • Zutlevics, T. L. “Markets and the Needy: Organ Sales or Aid?Journal of Applied Philosophy 18.3 (2001): 297–302.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1111/1468-5930.00196Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Zutlevics argues that allowing impoverished persons to sell their organs would compromise their autonomy considered as a group, because this practice would undermine the motivation of wealthier persons to provide aid to them and hence to enhance their ability to be autonomous.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  Relevance to Bioethics

                                                                                                                                                                                                  It was noted above that the question of the relationship between autonomy and constraint is relevant to several debates within applied ethics. Perhaps the area of applied ethics in which autonomy plays the most central role is bioethics. The principle of respect for autonomy, developed and articulated in Beauchamp and Childress 2013, has become the dominant principle in current bioethical discussion, as noted in Gillon 2003. This principle is defended in May 2005 against charges that it is too individualistic (as developed in Schneider 1998, among others) and should be replaced by an ethics of care, as argued in Tauber 2005. It plays a central role in discussions of the ethical requirement of securing a person’s informed consent to her treatment, as noted in Maclean 2009 and Taylor 2009, and in discussions of the procurement of organs from the dead, as noted in Gill 2004.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Beauchamp, Tom L., and James F. Childress. Principles of Biomedical Ethics. 7th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    Beauchamp and Childress outline their view of the nature and importance of the principle of respect for autonomy. Originally published in 1979.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Gill, Michael B. “Presumed Consent, Autonomy, and Organ Donation.” Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 29.1 (2004): 37–59.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1076/jmep.29.1.37.30412Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Gill argues that a policy of presumed consent would not violate the principle of respect for autonomy, and that it would be a moral improvement over the current system of presumed refusal. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Gillon, Raanan. “Ethics Needs Principles: Four Can Encompass the Rest—and Respect for Autonomy Should Be ‘First among Equals.’” Journal of Medical Ethics 29.5 (2003): 307–312.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        Gillon argues that the principle of respect for autonomy should be the primary principle of modern medical ethics.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Maclean, Alasdair. Autonomy, Informed Consent, and Medical Law: A Relational Challenge. Cambridge Law, Medicine, and Ethics. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511576119Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Maclean analyzes the ethical basis for the doctrine of informed consent, giving this context by situating it within the relationship between the patient and her attending health-care provider.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          • May, Thomas. “The Concept of Autonomy in Bioethics: An Unwarranted Fall from Grace.” In Personal Autonomy: New Essays on Personal Autonomy and Its Role in Contemporary Moral Philosophy. Edited by James Stacey Taylor, 299–309. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            May defends the use of autonomy in bioethics against communitarian and feminist criticisms of its being too individualistic.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Schneider, Carl E. The Practice of Autonomy: Patients, Doctors, and Medical Decisions. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              Schneider argues that autonomy has assumed too great a role in modern medical ethics.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Tauber, Alfred I. Patient Autonomy and the Ethics of Responsibility. Basic Bioethics. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                Tauber argues that instead of focusing on autonomy, which, he argues, fails properly to ground the moral philosophy of medicine, bioethicists should instead focus on the ethic of care.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Taylor, James Stacey. Practical Autonomy and Bioethics. Routledge Annals of Bioethics 6. New York: Routledge, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Taylor develops an externalist account of “practical autonomy” and challenges the view that identification and autonomy are identical. This analysis of autonomy is then applied to various issues in bioethics in which this concept is held to play a central role.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Relevance to Business Ethics

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  While the concept of autonomy is not as prevalent in debates in business ethics as it is in bioethical debates, it still plays an important role in some of the perennial discussions in this field. It is, for example, central to the debate over the ethics of advertising, with many participants in this debate focusing on the question of whether advertising impairs personal autonomy, enhances it, or is neutral with respect to it—see Galbraith 2009, Hayek 1961, Arrington 1982, and Crisp 1987 for discussion of this issue. The value of autonomy is also taken to undergird ethical arguments both for the expansion of the market, as argued in Dworkin 1994 and Taylor 2005, and also for its restriction, as asserted in Heath 2005.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Arrington, Robert L. “Advertising and Behavior Control.” Journal of Business Ethics 1.1 (1982): 3–12.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Arrington analyzes the concepts of autonomous desire, rational desire, free choice, and control and then argues that advertising does not undermine consumer autonomy. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Crisp, Roger. “Persuasive Advertising, Autonomy, and the Creation of Desire.” Journal of Business Ethics 6.5 (1987): 413–418.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Crisp begins by discussing four concepts central to the debate over autonomy and advertising: autonomous desire, rational desire and choice, free choice, and control or manipulation. He then draws on this discussion to respond to Robert Arrington’s arguments that advertising does not undermine consumer autonomy. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Dworkin, Gerald. “Markets and Morals: The Case for Organ Sales.” In Morality, Harm, and the Law. Edited by Gerald Dworkin, 155–161. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1994.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Dworkin argues that respect for personal autonomy should support the legalization of a market in human transplant organs.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Galbraith, John Kenneth. The Affluent Society. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Galbraith argues that persons are not autonomous with respect to the desires that advertising stimulates in them. First published in 1958.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Hayek, Friedrich A. “The Non Sequitur of the Dependence Effect.” Southern Economic Journal 27.4 (1961): 346–348.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Hayek responds to Galbraith’s de facto autonomy-based criticism of advertising.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Heath, Joseph. “Liberal Autonomy and Consumer Sovereignty.” In Autonomy and the Challenges to Liberalism: New Essays. Edited by John Christman and Joel Anderson, 204–225. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Heath notes that there is a lopsided investment of consumer resources into market over nonmarket goods, and he then argues that this is generated by an underlying collective-action problem. Solving this through the force of law, he argues, will go against consumer sovereignty, but it will not go against personal autonomy.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Taylor, James Stacey. Stakes and Kidneys: Why Markets in Human Body Parts Are Morally Imperative. Live Questions in Ethics and Moral Philosophy. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Taylor argues that respect for autonomy should support a regulated market in human kidneys, as well as in other organs. This volume addresses various autonomy-based arguments, including those from coercion and from constraining options.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Relevance to Social Philosophy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Aside from being prominent in bioethics and business ethics, the concept of autonomy is also prominent in the various discussions that can be characterized as social philosophy. A concern for autonomy, for example, informs debates over the legitimacy or otherwise of prohibiting prostitution, as discussed in Anderson 2002, or of banning abortion, as discussed in Smith 1982 and Fischer 2003; it is also prominent in many defenses of the view that speech should receive special protection, as discussed in Smith 1982—a common position that is criticized in Brison 1998. A concern for autonomy is also central in debates concerning the value of privacy, with many scholars, such as Kupfer 1987 and Smith 1982, holding that there is a strong connection between a person’s possession of privacy and her ability either to develop or retain her autonomy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Anderson, Scott A. “Prostitution and Sexual Autonomy: Making Sense of the Prohibition of Prostitution.” Ethics 112.4 (2002): 748–780.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Anderson argues that a concern for the value of autonomy should lead one to support the continued prohibition of prostitution. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Brison, Susan J. “The Autonomy Defense of Free Speech.” Ethics 108.2 (1998): 312–339.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Brison outlines several autonomy-based arguments in favor of free speech. She then outlines six accounts of autonomy, arguing that five fail as analyses of autonomy, and that none preclude restrictions on free speech in the case of hate speech. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Fischer, John Martin. “Abortion, Autonomy, and Control over One’s Body.” In Autonomy. Edited by Ellen Frankel Paul, Fred D. Miller Jr., and Jeffrey Paul, 286–306. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511550119.013Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Fischer argues that certain ways of appealing to autonomy cannot help defend J. J. Thomson’s strategy of arguing in favor of the view that in some situations, abortion is permissible—although he does argue that, ultimately, considerations of autonomy support the pro-choice position in the abortion debate.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Kupfer, Joseph. “Privacy, Autonomy, and Self-Concept.” American Philosophical Quarterly 24.1 (1987): 81–89.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Kupfer argues that the possession of privacy is necessary for the possession of autonomy. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Smith, Rogers M. “The Constitution and Autonomy.” Texas Law Review 60.2 (1982): 175–205.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Smith examines what he takes to be a shift in liberal political theory and American constitutional thought toward giving the value of autonomy pride of place. He claims that the legal right to abortion, contraception, free speech, freedom of religion, freedom of association, and privacy is grounded in the value of autonomy. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Relevance to Political Philosophy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          As well as featuring in debates both in social philosophy and applied ethics, the concept of autonomy is central to many current discussions of political philosophy. In addition to the debate between liberal perfectionists and their critics, as outlined above in the context of discussing Raz’s account of autonomy, a concern with the value of autonomy features heavily in several sophisticated arguments that have been offered in favor of the welfare state, such as those offered in Haworth 1986, Lindley 1986, and Young 1986. It has similarly been featured both in arguments that have been offered in favor of states that have a more libertarian focus on respecting negative rights, such as that developed in Spector 2007, and in criticisms of arguments that have been offered in favor of such minimal states, such as in Dimock 2007. More theoretically, Christman 2009 defends political liberalism against the charge that it requires too-much self-knowledge on the part of the citizenry, and it also develops a defense of political liberalism that recognizes the social embeddedness of persons. However, despite the prominence of the concept of autonomy within modern political philosophy, there is recognition, such as in Skorupski 1993, that it cannot bear all the weight of justifying political liberalism; there is also a lively debate over whether or not it is compatible with certain forms of state paternalism, as argued in Thaler and Sunstein 2009.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Christman, John. The Politics of Persons: Individual Autonomy and Socio-historical Selves. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511635571Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Christman develops socially embedded analyses of the related concepts of the self and of personal autonomy for liberal political theory that assumes that citizens are autonomous and self-governing.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Dimock, Susan. “The Value of Values: The Importance of Autonomy in Contractarian Reasoning.” In Liberty, Games, and Contracts: Jan Narveson and the Defence of Libertarianism. Edited by Malcolm Murray, 81–102. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Dimock develops a quasi-coherentist account of autonomy and discusses its value in the context of arguing against Jan Narveson’s libertarian contractarianism.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Haworth, Lawrence. Autonomy: An Essay in Philosophical Psychology and Ethics. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1986.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Haworth argues that persons do possess autonomy, understood as rational competence, and then he outlines some of the factors that would restrict it. Like Lindley and Young, he argues that a concern for autonomy will give moral support to a form of welfare provision—hence grounding a liberal approach to political philosophy.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Lindley, Richard. Autonomy. Issues in Political Theory. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press International, 1986.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Lindley explores the nature and value of personal autonomy within the context of a liberal democracy, drawing on the nature and value of autonomy to support left-liberal conclusions.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Skorupski, John. “Autonomy in Its Place: Liberal Virtues and Human Ends.” In Virtue and Taste: Essays on Politics, Ethics, and Aesthetics; In Memory of Flint Schier. Edited by Dudley Knowles and John Skorupski, 19–33. Philosophical Quarterly Supplementary Series 2. Oxford: Blackwell, 1993.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Skorupski argues that autonomy, understood as reason-governed action, cannot feature exclusively in the justification of liberalism.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Spector, Horacio. Autonomy and Rights: The Moral Foundations of Liberalism. Oxford: Clarendon, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Spector provides a defense of classical liberal political thought that is based on the obligation to respect negative freedom. Originally published in 1992.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Thaler, Richard H., and Cass R. Sunstein. Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness. London: Penguin, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thaler and Sunstein outline what they term “libertarian paternalism”—a form of paternalism that they claim can be instituted without recourse to coercion.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Young, Robert. Personal Autonomy: Beyond Negative and Positive Liberty. Croom Helm International Series in Social and Political Thought. London: Croom Helm, 1986.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Young argues that, properly understood, autonomy as a concept goes beyond both positive and negative liberty, and that a proper respect for it will lead us to support political policies that are usually associated with the Left.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Autonomy Skepticism

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Although this article has proceeded as though autonomy is a property that admits of a definitive analysis, and that it is this analysis that the writers on autonomy are attempting to provide, considerable doubt has been raised about this assumption. In particular, it has been charged that autonomy faces the “Gertrude Stein problem”—that is, that “there is no there there” when it comes to autonomy. It is argued in Dworkin 1988, Feinberg 1989, Yeide 1992, Schier 1993, Dwyer 2001, and Arpaly 2003, for example, that there is no one unified account of “autonomy” that can do the philosophical work that this concept is supposed to perform in the varied philosophical fields in which it plays a central role, and so, rather than identifying a single concept, the term “autonomy” is instead being used in a variety of ways. Thus, rather than attempting to analyze what “autonomy” actually is, it is argued in Double 1992, for example, that writers on autonomy should adopt the more modest aim of explicitly providing an analysis of a conception of autonomy that is being drawn upon to play a clearly identified role in the debates to which they are party.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Arpaly, Nomy. Unprincipled Virtue: An Inquiry into Moral Agency. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Arpaly argues that there is no unified account of autonomy to be had, and she identifies eight varieties of autonomy in the current philosophical literature.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Double, Richard. “Two Types of Autonomy Accounts.” Canadian Journal of Philosophy 22.1 (1992): 65–80.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Double notes that intuitions about autonomy are often driven by exemplars of autonomous persons, and he argues that owing to the variety of exemplars considered, an adequate analysis of autonomy will have to be less specific than such analyses usually are. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Dworkin, Gerald. “The Nature of Autonomy.” In The Theory and Practice of Autonomy. By Gerald Dworkin, 3–20. Cambridge Studies in Philosophy. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511625206.002Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Dworkin notes the many ways in which the term “autonomy” is used, outlining some examples of the different understandings of this concept.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Dwyer, Susan J. “The Many Faces of Autonomy.” Philosophers’ Magazine 13 (Winter 2001): 40–41.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Dwyer outlines the different ways in which she believes the concept of “autonomy” is used. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Feinberg, Joel. “Autonomy.” In The Inner Citadel: Essays on Individual Autonomy. Edited by John Christman, 27–53. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Feinberg outlines four different ways in which the term “autonomy” can be used.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Schier, Flint. “The Kantian Gulag: Autonomy and the Liberal Conception of Freedom.” In Virtue and Taste: Essays on Politics, Ethics, and Aesthetics; In Memory of Flint Schier. Edited by Dudley Knowles and John Skorupski, 1–18. Philosophical Quarterly Supplementary Series 2. Oxford: Blackwell, 1993.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Schier argues that no single account of autonomy can explain both why the victims of coercion are unfree and why persons suffering from various compulsions are unfree. This, he argues, has important implications for liberal theories that are based on the concept of autonomy.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Yeide, Harry, Jr. “The Many Faces of Autonomy.” Journal of Clinical Ethics 3.4 (1992): 269–274.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yeide outlines the different ways in which the concept of autonomy is used, with an emphasis on how this concept is deployed in various debates in medical ethics. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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