Individual Autonomy and Authenticity

Dissertation, Brown University (1999)

Insoo Hyun
Case Western Reserve University
A conception of individual autonomy is advanced which focuses on a notion of authenticity. It is argued that an ascent to higher levels of desire can never provide the guarantee that one's choices are truly expressive of one's autonomy, since one's higher-order desires may themselves be the product of indoctrination and manipulation. In response to this criticism, it is suggested that one's having authentic values is a necessary precondition for one's exercise of autonomy. A person's authenticity is defined in relation to the conditions under which her values are formed and accepted. Authentic values, by definition, have a causal history free of coercion, manipulation, and constraint; persons are authentic to the extent that they are not compelled to have their values. It is argued that individuals are autonomous only when they possess and act on their authentic values. Finally, provided this authenticity conception of autonomy, it is suggested that the value of individual autonomy extends beyond just the instrumental and the intrinsic to include an additional worth that is derivative of the good social conditions which make it possible
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