About this topic
Summary Autonomy is one of the most often discussed topics in modern and contemporary philosophy.  It is key to some moral theories, some political philosophies, and, of course, central to understanding the nature of personhood.  Unsurprisingly, then, there are significant disagreements about the nature of autonomy.  There are thinner and thicker understandings of autonomy throughout the literature.  There are moral and political demands that autonomy be protected or promoted.  Its use as a central value in applied ethics is standard.  Generally speaking, then, there are disagreements about what autonomy is and how and why it matters in moral theory and political philosophy.
Key works It is difficult to say what would count as a "key work" here.  Historically, Kant is likely the most important author to consider.  His deontological moral theory rests on a particularly thick conception of autonomy. For a detailed historical overview of autonomy in modern philosophy, it may be best to start with J.B. Schneewind's 1998 The Invention of Autonomy.
Introductions Perhaps the best place to start considering the nature of autonomy is Stephen Darwall's 2006. See also John Christman's SEP entry.
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  1. Beyond Adaptive Preferences: Rethinking Women's Complicity in Their Own Subordination.Charlotte Knowles - forthcoming - Wiley: European Journal of Philosophy.
    An important question confronting feminist philosophers is why women are sometimes complicit in their own subordination. The dominant view holds that complicity is best understood in terms of adaptive preferences. This view assumes that agents will naturally gravitate away from subordination and towards flourishing, as long as they do not have things imposed on them that disrupt this trajectory. However, there is reason to believe that ‘impositions’ do not explain all of the ways in which complicity can arise. This paper (...)
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  2. Beyond Adaptive Preferences: Rethinking Women's Complicity in Their Own Subordination.Charlotte Knowles - forthcoming - European Journal of Philosophy.
    An important question confronting feminist philosophers is why women are sometimes complicit in their own subordination. The dominant view holds that complicity is best understood in terms of adaptive preferences. This view assumes that agents will naturally gravitate away from subordination and towards flourishing, as long as they do not have things imposed on them that disrupt this trajectory. However, there is reason to believe that ‘impositions’ do not explain all of the ways in which complicity can arise. This paper (...)
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  3. On Being Good Gay: ‘Covering’ and the Social Structure of Being LGBT+.Annamari Vitikainen - 2021 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 24 (7):1083-1090.
  4. AI Systems and Respect for Human Autonomy.Arto Laitinen & Otto Sahlgren - 2021 - Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence.
    This study concerns the sociotechnical bases of human autonomy. Drawing on recent literature on AI ethics, philosophical literature on dimensions of autonomy, and on independent philosophical scrutiny, we first propose a multi-dimensional model of human autonomy and then discuss how AI systems can support or hinder human autonomy. What emerges is a philosophically motivated picture of autonomy and of the normative requirements personal autonomy poses in the context of algorithmic systems. Ranging from consent to data collection and processing, to computational (...)
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  5. Robot Autonomy vs. Human Autonomy: Social Robots, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and the Nature of Autonomy.Paul Formosa - forthcoming - Minds and Machines:1-22.
    Social robots are robots that can interact socially with humans. As social robots and the artificial intelligence that powers them becomes more advanced, they will likely take on more social and work roles. This has many important ethical implications. In this paper, we focus on one of the most central of these, the impacts that social robots can have on human autonomy. We argue that, due to their physical presence and social capacities, there is a strong potential for social robots (...)
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  6. We Are Not Born Submissive: How Patriarchy Shapes Women's Lives.Manon Garcia - 2021 - Princeton, NJ, USA: Princeton University Press.
    What role do women play in the perpetuation of patriarchy? On the one hand, popular media urges women to be independent, outspoken, and career-minded. Yet, this same media glorifies a specific, sometimes voluntary, female submissiveness as a source of satisfaction. In philosophy, even less has been said on why women submit to men and the discussion has been equally contradictory—submission has traditionally been considered a vice or pathology, but female submission has been valorized as innate to women’s nature. Is there (...)
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  7. Educating the Reasonable: Political Liberalism and Public Education.Frodo Podschwadek - 2021 - Springer.
    Offering the first developed account of political liberal education, this book combines a thorough analysis of the theoretical groundwork of political liberal education with application-oriented approaches to contemporary educational challenges. Following in depth engagement with the shortcomings of Rawls’ theory and addressing some key objections to neutrality-based restrictions in education, the volume moves on to provide an insightful discussion of topics such as same-sex relations in sex-education, the position of migrant children and the rights of religious parents to determine the (...)
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  8. Women and Liberty, 1600-1800: Philosophical Essays.Jacqueline Broad & Karen Detlefsen - 2018 - Oxford University Press.
    There have been many different historical-intellectual accounts of the shaping and development of concepts of liberty in pre-Enlightenment Europe. This volume is unique for addressing the subject of liberty principally as it is discussed in the writings of women philosophers, and as it is theorized with respect to women and their lives, during this period. The volume covers ethical, political, metaphysical, and religious notions of liberty, with some chapters discussing women's ideas about the metaphysics of free will, and others examining (...)
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  9. Autonomy, Reflection, and Education.Shane Ryan - forthcoming - In Jonathan Matheson & Kirk Lougheed (eds.), Epistemic Autonomy.
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  10. The Cambridge Handbook of Human Dignity: Interdisciplinary Perspectives.Marcus Düwell (ed.) - 2014 - Cambridge University Press.
    This introduction to human dignity explores the history of the notion from antiquity to the nineteenth century, and the way in which dignity is conceptualised in non-Western contexts. Building on this, it addresses a range of systematic conceptualisations, considers the theoretical and legal conditions for human dignity as a useful notion and analyses a number of philosophical and conceptual approaches to dignity. Finally, the book introduces current debates, paying particular attention to the legal implementation, human rights, justice and conflicts, medicine (...)
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  11. Enough Is Enough?: Disclosure in Cross-Cultural Research.C. Cox Macpherson & R. L. Connolly - 2002 - IRB: Ethics & Human Research 24 (3):7.
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  12. The Complex Nature of Willpower and Conceptual Mapping of its Normative Significance in Research on Stress, Addiction, and Dementia.Veljko Dubljević & Shevaun D. Neupert - 2021 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 44.
    Willpower has ramifications for autonomy and mental time-travel. Autonomy presupposes mature powers of volition and the capacity to anticipate future events and consequences of one's actions. Ainslie's study is useful to clarify basic autonomy in addiction and dementia. Furthermore, we show how our study on coping with stress can be applied to suppression and resolve.
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  13. Safeguarding Vulnerable Autonomy? Situational Vulnerability, The Inherent Jurisdiction and Insights From Feminist Philosophy.Jonathan Lewis - 2021 - Medical Law Review 29 (2):306-336.
    The High Court continues to exercise its inherent jurisdiction to make declarations about interventions into the lives of situationally vulnerable adults with mental capacity. In light of protective responses of health care providers and the courts to decision-making situations involving capacitous vulnerable adults, this paper has two aims. The first is diagnostic. The second is normative. The first aim is to identify the harms to a capacitous vulnerable adult’s autonomy that arise on the basis of the characterisation of situational vulnerability (...)
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  14. Hume’s Dynamic Coordination and International Law.Carmen E. Pavel - 2021 - Political Theory 49 (2):215-242.
    At the heart of the tension between state autonomy and international law is the question of whether states should willingly restrict their freedom of action for the sake of international security, human rights, trade, communication, and the environment. David Hume offers surprising insights to answer this question. He argues that the same interests in cooperation arise among individuals as well as states and that their interactions should be regulated by the same principles. Drawing on his model of dynamic coordination, I (...)
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  15. Kant and the Second Person.Janis David Schaab - forthcoming - Journal of the American Philosophical Association.
    According to Darwall’s Second-Personal Account, moral obligations constitutively involve relations of authority and accountability between persons. Darwall takes this account to lend support to Kant’s moral theory. Critics object that the Second-Personal Account abandons central tenets of Kant’s system. I respond to these critics’ three main challenges by showing that they rest on misunderstandings of the Second-Personal Account. Properly understood, this account is not only congenial to Kant’s moral theory, but also illuminates aspects of that theory which have hitherto received (...)
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  16. Towards a Non-Ideal Theory of Climate Migration.Joachim Wündisch - 2019 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy:1-32.
  17. Locke, Liberty, and Law: Legalism and Extra-Legal Powers in the Second Treatise.Assaf Sharon - 2019 - European Journal of Political Theory:147488511987164.
    The apparent inconsistency between Locke’s commitment to legalism and his explicit endorsement of the extra-legal power of prerogative has confounded many readers. Among those who don’t ignore or d...
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  18. Associative Solidarity, Relational Goods, and Autonomy for Refugees: What Does It Mean to Stand in Solidarity with Refugees?Christine Straehle - 2020 - Journal of Social Philosophy 51 (4):526-542.
    Journal of Social Philosophy, EarlyView.
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  19. Recognitive Arguments for Workplace Democracy.Onni Hirvonen & Keith Breen - 2020 - Constellations 27 (4):716-731.
  20. Pupils with Special Educational Needs: Experiencing Recognition in Individual Subject Curriculum Meetings.Janaina Hartveit Lie - 2020 - Constellations 27 (4):746-758.
  21. Nachdenken über Corona.Romy Jaster & Geert Keil (eds.) - 2021 - Stuttgart: Reclam.
    Die Covid-19-Pandemie und der Umgang mit ihr sind eine immense Herausforderung, nicht zuletzt für das philosophische Denken. Unter dem Brennglas der Coronakrise stellen sich viele Fragen schärfer und dringlicher als zuvor: etwa über die Berechtigung von Freiheitseinschränkungen, Vertrauen als politische Kategorie, die Schutzpflichten des Staates, Freiwilligkeit und Zwang, den gerechten Umgang mit Versorgungsengpässen in der Medizin oder über verantwortungsvolle Krisenkommunikation. Die Gesellschaft für Analytische Philosophie (GAP) hat einen Essay-Wettbewerb ausgerufen: »Nachdenken über Corona«. Dieser Band versammelt die Texte der drei Preisträger (...)
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  22. Autonomy and Aesthetic Engagement.C. Thi Nguyen - 2019 - Mind 129 (516):1127-1156.
    There seems to be a deep tension between two aspects of aesthetic appreciation. On the one hand, we care about getting things right. On the other hand, we demand autonomy. We want appreciators to arrive at their aesthetic judgments through their own cognitive efforts, rather than deferring to experts. These two demands seem to be in tension; after all, if we want to get the right judgments, we should defer to the judgments of experts. The best explanation, I suggest, is (...)
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  23. Capturing and Promoting the Autonomy of Capacitous Vulnerable Adults.Jonathan Lewis - 2020 - Journal of Medical Ethics:medethics-2020-106835.
    According to the High Court in England and Wales, the primary purpose of legal interventions into the lives of vulnerable adults with mental capacity should be to allow the individuals concerned to regain their autonomy of decision making. However, recent cases of clinical decision making involving capacitous vulnerable adults have shown that, when it comes to medical law, medical ethics and clinical practice, vulnerability is typically conceived as opposed to autonomy. The first aim of this paper is to detail the (...)
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  24. Por que ainda trabalhamos tanto? Reflexões sobre uma sociedade automatizada.Nicholas Kluge Corrêa - manuscript
    A mais de um século que o fenômeno da automatização dos meios de trabalho vem criando grande apreensão entre nós. Afinal, seríamos todos substituídos por máquinas em algum futuro próximo? Seriam todas as formas de trabalho automatizáveis? Tais questionamentos vêm levantando uma série de críticas pela comunidade engajada em ética de máquina e ética da inteligência artificial. Contudo, gostaria de nesta breve resenha, atacar este problema por outro ângulo, afinal, podemos criticar tal fenômeno de uma ampla variedade de pontos de (...)
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  25. Book Review: Chains of Persuasion: A Framework for Religion in Democracy, by Benjamin R. Hertzberg. [REVIEW]William P. Umphres - 2020 - Political Theory 48 (6):828-835.
  26. Love–According to Simone de Beauvoir.Tove Pettersen - 2017 - In Laura Hengehold & Nancy Bauer (eds.), A Companion to Simone de Beauvoir. Hoboken, New Jersey, USA: pp. 160-171.
    Beauvoir discusses various kinds of personal love in her work, including maternal love, lesbian love, friendship, and heterosexual love. In her portrayal of heterosexual love, she draws a distinction between two main types, inauthentic and authentic. Authentic love is “founded on mutual recognition of two liberties,” always freely chosen and sustained. It requires that the lovers maintain their individuality, while at the same time acknowledging each other’s differences. Inauthentic love is founded on inequality between the sexes, on submission and domination. (...)
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  27. “Properly a Subject of Contempt”: The Role of Natural Penalties in Mill's Liberal Thought.Thomas Schramme - 2020 - Journal of Social Philosophy 51 (3):391-409.
  28. Authenticity and Normative Authority: Addressing the Agency Dilemma with Values of One’s Own.Kathryn MacKay - 2020 - Journal of Social Philosophy 51 (3):349-370.
  29. Menschenwürde, Persönlichkeit und die verfassungsmäßige Kontrolle. Oder: starke Normativität ohne Metaphysik?Wei Feng - 2021 - Archiv Für Rechts- Und Sozialphilosophie, Beiheft 165:23-61.
    The concept of human dignity has been criticized as either too thick or too thin. However, according to the non-positivistic standpoint, the legal normativity of human dignity can be justified and thus strengthened by means of its moral correctness. From the individual perspective, Mencius’ understanding of human dignity as an intrinsic value and Kant’s formula of ‘man as an end in itself’ can be adequately understood based on the differentiation of, as well as the connection between, principium diiudicationis and principium (...)
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  30. What May We Hope For? Education in Times of Climate Change.Ingerid S. Straume - 2020 - Constellations 27 (3):540-552.
  31. Superinteligentny Lewiatan: Zarys problemu autonomii człowieka a autonomizacji urządzeń.Adrian Mróz - 2020 - Kultura I Historia 37 (1):1-18.
    Celem niniejszej pracy jest zastosowanie wizji „Lewiatana” Thomasa Hobbesa do koncepcji superinteligencji lub nadludzkiej inteligencji, które dyskutowane jest wśród transhumanistów i poruszone jest przez takich filozofów i futurologów jak między innymi Nick Bostrom, Stanisław Lem, albo Ray Kurzweil. Inspiracją mojej pracy były pytania w rodzaju: „kiedy człowiek przestaje być autonomicznym podmiotem?” albo „czy człowiek w ogóle może być samodzielny?”. Niemniej jednak wydaje mi się, że takie pytania mogą się pojawić wtedy, kiedy człowieka rozpoznamy jako zwierzę polityczne (politikon zoon w sensie (...)
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  32. The cruel optimism of sexual consent.Alisa Kessel - 2020 - Contemporary Political Theory 19 (3):359-380.
    This article intervenes in a critical debate about the use of consent to distinguish sex from rape. Drawing from critical contract theories, it argues that sexual consent is a cruel optimism that often operates to facilitate, rather than alleviate, sexual violence. Sexual consent as a cruel optimism promises to simplify rape allegations in the popular cultural imagination, confounds the distinction between victims and agents of sexual violence, and establishes certainty for potential victimizers who rely on it to convince themselves and (...)
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  33. Critical Social Work Education as Democratic Paideía: Inspiration From Cornelius Castoriadis to Educate for Democracy and Autonomy.Phillip Ablett & Christine Morley - 2020 - In Christine Morley, Phillip Ablett, Carolyn Noble & Stephen Cowden (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Critical Pedagogies for Social Work. London, UK: Routledge. pp. 176-188.
    The question of education for democratic ‘empowerment and liberation’, and how this might guide pedagogic practice is seldom raised and extremely challenging for social work education today. This chapter takes up the proposition that social work, through its educational practices, ‘can’ deliver on its promise of ‘democratic practice’ if democracy is understood as a process and not a predefined product. We argue that such a process and its embodiment in institutions cannot exist without the formation of radically democratic subjects, people (...)
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  34. Geoengineering the Climate and Ethical Challenges: What We Can Learn From Moral Emotions and Art.Sabine Roeser, Behnam Taebi & Neelke Doorn - 2020 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 23 (5):641-658.
  35. Religious Protest and Religious Loyalty.Avi Sagi & Nir Sagi - 2020 - European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 12 (2):7-36.
    In the accepted view, the basic disposition of believers is one of absolute obedience, humility, and lack of critique, doubt, or, indeed, defiance of God. Only through such a disposition do believers convey their absolute faith and establish the appropriate hierarchy between God and humans. This article challenges this view and argues that, in mainstream rabbinic tradition, the believer is not required to renounce his or her moral autonomy and certainly not his or her understanding of God and the world. (...)
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  36. Complicity and Hypocrisy.Nicolas Cornell & Amy Sepinwall - 2020 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 19 (2):154-181.
    This article offers a justification for accommodating claims of conscience. The standard justification points to the pain that acting against one’s conscience entails. But that defense cannot make sense of the state’s refusal to accommodate individuals where the law interferes with their deeply meaningful but nonmoral projects. An alternative justification, we argue, arises once one recognizes the connection between conscience and moral address: One’s lived moral convictions determine when and with what force one can hold others to account. Acting against (...)
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  37. Ego‐Less Agency: Dharma‐Responsiveness Without Kantian Autonomy.David Cummiskey - 2020 - Zygon 55 (2):497-518.
    My critical focus in this article is on Rick Repetti's compatibilist conception of free will, and his apparent commitment to a Kantian conception of autonomy, which I argue is in direct conflict with the Buddhist doctrine of no‐self. As an alternative, I defend a conception of ego‐less agency that I believe better coheres with core Buddhist teachings. In the course of the argument, I discuss the competing conceptions of free agency and autonomy defended by Harry Frankfurt, John Martin Fischer, Christine (...)
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  38. Citizens' Autonomy and Corporate Cultural Power.Lisa Herzog - 2020 - Journal of Social Philosophy 51 (2):205-230.
  39. The Human Right to Health: A Defense.Nicole Hassoun - 2020 - Journal of Social Philosophy 51 (2):158-179.
  40. Amílcar Cabral’s Modernist Philosophy of Culture and Cultural Liberation.Zeyad El Nabolsy - 2020 - Journal of African Cultural Studies 32 (2):231-250.
    This article argues that Amílcar Cabral adhered to some of the essential elements of the philosophical discourse of modernity. This commitment led Cabral to endorse an anti-essentialist, historicized conception of culture, and this in turn led him to conceive of cultural liberation in terms of cultural autonomy as opposed to the preservation of indigenous culture(s). Cabral’s attitude towards languages is employed as a case study in order to demonstrate how emphasis on Cabral’s commitment to the philosophical discourse of modernity can (...)
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  41. Structural Injustice and Alienation: A Reply to My Critics.Catherine Lu - 2020 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 23 (4):544-555.
  42. Extending Voice and Autonomy Through Participatory Action Research: Ethical and Practical Issues.Sui Ting Kong, Sarah Banks, Toby Brandon, Stewart Chappell, Helen Charnley, Se Kwang Hwang, Danielle Rudd, Sue Shaw, Sam Slatcher & Nicki Ward - 2020 - Ethics and Social Welfare 14 (2):220-229.
  43. Relational Autonomy as a Way to Recognise and Enhance Children’s Capacity and Agency to Be Participatory Research Actors.Janice McLaughlin - 2020 - Ethics and Social Welfare 14 (2):204-219.
  44. Antropologia pragmatista. Padova Lectures.Michael Quante & Armando Manchisi (eds.) - 2020 - Padova PD, Italia: Padova University Press.
    What does it mean to be a person? And in what way is this connected to our finitude, i.e. to the properly human aspect of our existence? By analyzing some of the core features of our form of life (personal identity, self-consciousness, freedom, autonomy, responsibility), Michael Quante answers these questions arguing that it is possible to be a person and lead an authentically human life only within social relationships of recognition: only in these relationships, it is possible to know oneself (...)
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  45. Political Normativity and the Functional Autonomy of Politics.Carlo Burelli - forthcoming - European Journal of Political Theory:147488512091850.
    This article argues for a new interpretation of the realist claim that politics is autonomous from morality and involves specific political values. First, this article defends an original normative source: functional normativity. Second, it advocates a substantive functional standard: political institutions ought to be assessed by their capacity to select and implement collective decisions. Drawing from the ‘etiological account’ in philosophy of biology, I will argue that functions yield normative standards, which are independent from morality. For example, a ‘good heart’ (...)
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  46. Between Race and Nation: Marcus Garvey and the Politics of Self-Determination.Desmond Jagmohan - 2020 - Political Theory 48 (3):271-302.
    This essay argues that Marcus Garvey held a constructivist theory of self-determination, one that saw nationalism and transnationalism as mutually necessary and reinforcing ideals. The argument proceeds in three steps. First it recovers Garvey’s transnationalist emphasis by looking at his intellectual debts to other diaspora struggles, namely political Zionism and Irish nationalism. Second it argues that Garvey held a constructivist view of national identity, which also grounds his argument that the black diaspora has a right to collective self-determination. Third it (...)
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  47. Extending Voice and Autonomy Through Participatory Action Research: Ethical and Practical IssuesReflections on a Workshop Held at Durham University, November 2018.Sui Ting Kong, Sarah Banks, Toby Brandon, Stewart Chappell, Helen Charnley, Se Kwang Hwang, Danielle Rudd, Sue Shaw, Sam Slatcher & Nicki Ward - forthcoming - Ethics and Social Welfare:1-10.
  48. Emma and Defective Action.Eileen John - 2018 - In Eva Dadlez (ed.), Jane Austen's Emma: Philosophical Perspectives. New York, NY, USA: pp. 84-108.
    This chapter explores what Emma and Austen might have to say about human agency and autonomy. Considered and challenged are Christine Korsgaard’s use of Austen’s characters (Emma Woodhouse and Harriet Smith) to exemplify a species of defective autonomous action. Austen's novel persistently addresses and clarifies the nature and sources of defective action. Harriet Smith’s happy subordination to Emma’s will, as Korsgaard maintains, is obviously problematic. But it is most often Emma Woodhouse herself, and not Harriet, whose conduct Austen presents as (...)
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  49. The Violence of Autonomy: The Significance of Matthew 11:12 in Flannery O’Connor’s The Violent Bear It Away.Michael Boler - 2020 - Heythrop Journal 61 (3):483-493.
  50. ‘This Man is My Property’: Slavery and Political Absolutism in Locke and the Classical Social Contract Tradition.Johan Olsthoorn & Laurens van Apeldoorn - forthcoming - European Journal of Political Theory:147488512091130.
    It is morally impossible, Locke argued, for individuals to consensually establish absolute rule over themselves. That would be to transfer to rulers a power that is not ours, but God’s alone: ownership of our lives. This article analyses the conceptual presuppositions of Locke’s argument for the moral impossibility of self-enslavement through a comparison with other classical social contract theorists, including Grotius, Hobbes and Pufendorf. Despite notoriously defending the permissibility of voluntary enslavement of individuals and even entire peoples, Grotius similarly endorsed (...)
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