Moral Philosophy and Politics 4 (1):27-41 (2017)

Natalie Stoljar
McGill University
Joseph Raz’s The Morality of Freedom is well known for defending both a perfectionist form of liberalism and an ‘externalist’ conception of autonomy. John Christman proposes that there is a logical connection between the two theses and argues that externalist accounts of autonomy should be rejected on the basis that they are perfectionist. Christman’s perfectionism argument contains two premises: externalist theories of autonomy entail political perfectionism and political perfectionism is not defensible. I argue that neither premise is true. Externalist theories of autonomy do not entail political perfectionism. Further, even assuming for the sake of argument that premise is true, premise is false. The strongest challenge to political perfectionism is that it is incompatible with the value of respect. I argue that those defending political perfectionism misconstrue what is required for respect. Once we see that respect is secured through features inherent in processes, the value of respect can be reconciled with political perfectionism. Political perfectionism is a defensible thesis and premise is false.
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DOI 10.1515/mopp-2016-0038
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Autonomy in Moral and Political Philosophy.John Christman - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Getting Obligations Right: Autonomy and Shared Decision Making.Jonathan Lewis - 2020 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 37 (1):118-140.
Feminist Perspectives on Autonomy.Natalie Stoljar - forthcoming - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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