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Rethinking personal autonomy

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Wednesday, October 21, 2020, 11:00 am – 1:00 pm

Conceptions of justice for liberal societies are typically connected to the assumption that citizens are autonomous agents, and a number of social practices (e.g. education, medicine) have among their main aims to support and enhance autonomy. At the same time, there is significant disagreement in the literature about what autonomy amounts to. In this talk, I present an account according to which personal autonomy requires (i) a cluster of broadly cognitive competences and (ii) the ability to appropriate some of one’s motivational states in a way that makes them truly “one’s own.” I argue that (ii) demands a particular form of reason-responsiveness and I close by considering some challenges that can be raised against such an account of personal autonomy.