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The Social Dimension Of Autonomy

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines systematically what a social or relational or intersubjectivist conception of autonomy might look like, what it would add to individualist theories, and what normative consequences it would have for liberal political philosophy. The author begins with a brief look at the concept of autonomy and leading contemporary individualist theories. He distinguishes three respects in which autonomous agency depends on a sufficiently conducive social environment. The psychological conditions for exercising these capacities and skills to shape an authentic self and lead an autonomous life are not very familiar. The author argues that the exercise of autonomy-constituting individual capacities requires what Hegel calls 'being at home' in the social world, a condition that involves both the subjective experience of recognition and the objective fact of recognition.

Keywords: autonomous; autonomy; psychological conditions; social environment



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