Autonomy, Liberalism, and Anti-Perfectionism
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John Christman has recently objected to substantive conceptions of autonomy on the grounds that they introduce unwanted perfectionism into political thinking. I defend substantive conceptions of autonomy against Christman’s critique on two fronts. First, I defend substantive conceptions of autonomy against the charge that their utilisation in political theory would result in the inappropriate exclusion from democratic respect of individuals in oppressive relations. Second, I defend substantive conceptions of autonomy from the charge that they fail the ‘endorsement constraint’, i.e. that incorporating a substantive conception of autonomy into the concept of the person at the heart of a political theory would be alienating for citizens.
KeywordsAutonomy Liberalism Perfectionism Christman
I would like to thanktwo anonymous referees for this journal, as well as participants in the Workshop on Gender and Philosophy at MIT, and the Mentoring Project at UMass, for helpful feedback on earlier drafts.
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