Democratic Autonomy: Public Reasoning about the Ends of Policy (Oxford Political Theory)

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It identifies processes of reasoning that avert bureaucratic domination and bring diverse people into political agreement. To bridge our differences intelligently, Richardson argues, we cannot rely on instrumentalist approaches to policy reasoning, such as cost-benefit analysis. Instead, citizens must arrive at reasonable compromises through fair, truth-oriented processes of deliberation.

Using examples from programs as diverse as disability benefits and environmental regulation, he shows how the administrative policy-making necessary to carrying out most legislation can be part of our deciding what to do. Opposing both those liberal theorists who have attacked the populist ideal and those neo-republican theorists who have given up on it, Richardson builds an account of popular rule that is sensitive to the challenges to public deliberation that arise from relying on liberal constitutional guarantees, representative institutions, majority rule, and administrative rulemaking.

Written in a nontechnical style and engaged with practical issues of everyday politics, this highly original and rigorous restatement of what democracy entails is essential reading for political theorists, philosophers, public choice theorists, constitutional and administrative lawyers, and policy analysts. Subject Democracy.

Representative government and representation. Bibliographic information. Publication date Series Oxford political theory ISBN cloth cloth Browse related items Start at call number: JC R Librarian view Catkey: Other aspects of the inner reflection model should be noted. As just mentioned, this view of autonomy is often stated as requiring critical self reflection see, e. This has been understood as involving a rational appraisal of one's desires, testing them for internal consistency, their relation to reliable beliefs, and the like. But an overly narrow concentration on rational assessment exposes such conceptions to charges of hyper intellectualism, painting a picture of the autonomous person as a cold, detached calculator see Meyers , — For parallel reasons, some theorists have noted that concentration on only desires as the focal point of autonomy is overly narrow, as people can fail to exhibit self-government relative to a wide range of personal characteristics, such as values, physical traits, relations to others, and so on see Double , Autonomy is central in certain moral frameworks, both as a model of the moral person — the feature of the person by virtue of which she is morally obligated — and as the aspect of persons which ground others' obligations to her or him.

For Kant, the self-imposition of universal moral law is the ground of both moral obligation generally and the respect others owe to us and we owe ourselves. In short, practical reason — our ability to use reasons to choose our own actions — presupposes that we understand ourselves as free. Freedom means lacking barriers to our action that are in any way external to our will, though it also requires that we utilize a law to guide our decisions, a law that can come to us only by an act of our own will for further discussion see Hill This self-imposition of the moral law is autonomy.

And since this law must have no content provided by sense or desire, or any other contingent aspect of our situation, it must be universal.

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Hence we have the first formulation of the Categorical Imperative, that by virtue of our being autonomous we must act only on those maxims that we can consistently will as a universal law. The story continues, however: for the claim is that this capacity to impose upon ourselves the moral law is the ultimate source of all moral value — for to value anything instrumentally or intrinsically implies the ability to make value judgments generally, the most fundamental of which is the determination of what is morally valuable. Some theorists who are not self-described Kantians have made this inference central to their views of autonomy.

Paul Benson, for example, has argued that being autonomous implies a measure of self-worth in that we must be in a position to trust our decision-making capacities to put ourselves in a position of responsibility Benson ; cf. But the Kantian position is that such self-regard is not a contingent psychological fact about us, but an unavoidable implication of the exercise of practical reason cf. Taylor So we owe to ourselves moral respect in virtue of our autonomy.

But insofar as this capacity depends in no way on anything particular or contingent about ourselves, we owe similar respect to all other persons in virtue of their capacity. Hence via the second formulation of the Categorical Imperative , we are obliged to act out of fundamental respect for other persons in virtue of their autonomy. In this way, autonomy serves as both a model of practical reason in the determination of moral obligation and as the feature of other persons deserving moral respect from us. For further discussion, see Immanual Kant and moral philosophy. Recent discussions of Kantian autonomy have downplayed the transcendental nature of practical reason in this account see, for example, Herman and Hill For example, Christine Korsgaard follows Kant in seeing our capacity for self-reflection as both the object of respect and the seat of normativity generally.

But unlike Kant, Korsgaard argues that we have different practical identities that are the source of our normative commitments, and not all of them are of fundamental moral worth. But the most general of such identities — that which makes us members of a kingdom of ends — is our moral identity, which yields universal duties and obligations independent of contingent factors.

Autonomy is the source of all obligations, whether moral or non-moral, since it is the capacity to impose upon ourselves, by virtue of our practical identities, obligations to act Korsgaard Traditional critiques of autonomy-based moral views, and Kant's in particular, have been mounted along various lines. I mention two here, as they connect with issues concerning autonomy in social and political theory.

The first concerns the way in which autonomy-based moral theory grounds obligation in our cognitive abilities rather than in our emotions and affective connections see, e. The claim is that Kantian morality leaves too little room for the kinds of emotional reactions that are constitutive of moral response in many situations: the obligations of parents for example concern not only what they do but the passions and care they bring forth in doing it. To view obligation as arising from autonomy but understanding autonomy in a purely cognitive manner makes such an account vulnerable to this kind of charge.

The Kantian model of such a self is of a pure cognizer — a reflective agent engaged in practical reason. But also involved in decision-making are our passions — emotions, desires, felt commitments, senses of attraction and aversion, alienation and comfort. These are both the objects of our judgement and partly constitutive of them — to passionately embrace an option is different from cooly determining it to be best.

Judgment is involved with all such passions when decisions are made. And it judgment need not be understood apart from them, but as an ability to engage in those actions whose passionate and reasoned support we muster up. So when the optimal decision for me is an impassioned one, I must value my ability to engage in the right passions, not merely in the ability to cold-heartedly reflect and choose. Putting the passions outside the scope of reasoned reflection, as merely an ancillary quality of the action — to consider how to do something not merely what we are doing — is to make one kind of decision.

Putting passions inside that scope — saying that what it is right to do now is to act with a certain affect or passion — is another. When we generalize from our ability to make the latter sort of decisions, we must value not only the ability to weigh options and universalize them but also the ability to engage the right affect, emotion, etc. Therefore, we value ourselves and others as passionate reasoners not merely reasoners per se. The implications of this observation is that in generalizing our judgments in the manner Korsgaard following Kant says we must, we need not commit ourselves to valuing only the cognitive capacities of humanity but also its relatively subjective elements.

This directly relates to the nature of autonomy, for the question of whether moral obligation rests upon and contains affective elements depends on the conception of autonomy at work and whether affective elements are included in the types of reflective judgments that form its core. A second question is this: since the reflection that is involved in autonomy and which, according to this view, is the source of normativity need only be hypothetical reflection upon one's desires and mental capacities, then the question arises: under what conditions is this hypothetical reflection meant to take place?

If the capacity for reflection is the seat of obligation, then we must ask if the conditions under which such hypothetical reflection takes place are idealized in any sense — if they are assumed to be reasonable for example. Are we considering merely the reflections the actual person would make were she to turn her attention to the question, no matter how unreasonable such reflections might be?

If so, why should we think this grounds obligations? If we assume they are reasonable, then under some conditions moral obligations are not imposed by the actual self but rather by an idealized, more rational self. This shows the complex and potentially problematic implications of this ambiguity. This points to the question of whether autonomy can be the seat of moral obligation and respect if autonomy is conceived in a purely procedural manner.

If no substantive commitments or value orientations are included in the conceptual specification of autonomy, then it is unclear how this capacity grounds any particular substantive value commitments. On the other hand, if autonomy includes a specification of particular values in its conditions — that the autonomous person must value her own freedom for example — then it turns out that moral obligation and respect attaches only to those already committed in this way, and not more generally to all rational agents as such as traditionally advertised by the view.

This echoes, of course, Hegel's critique of Kant. These difficulties point to ambiguities in autonomy-based moral views, ones which may well be clarified in further developments of those theories. They also pick up on traditional problems with Kantian ethics though there are many other such difficulties not mentioned here.

Before leaving moral philosophy, we should consider ethical views which focus on autonomy but which do not depend directly on a Kantian framework. Autonomy can play a role in moral theory without that theory being fully Kantian in structure. For example, it is possible to argue that personal autonomy has intrinsic value independent of a fully worked out view of practical reason. Viewing autonomy as an intrinsic value or as a constitutive element in personal well-being in this way opens the door to a generally consequentialist moral framework while paying heed to the importance of self-government to a fulfilling life for discussion see Sumner It may also be unclear why autonomy — viewed here as the capacity to reflect on and endorse one's values, character and commitments — should have value independent of the results of exercising that capacity.

Why is one person's autonomy intrinsically valuable when she uses it to, say, harm herself or make rash or morally skewed choices? More generally, how can we take account of the systematic biases and distortions that plague typical human reasoning in valuing people's capacity to make decisions for themselves see, e. This question becomes more acute as we consider ways that autonomy can obtain in degrees, for then it is unclear why personal autonomy should be seen as equally valuable in persons who display different levels of it or different levels of those abilities that are its conditions, such as rationality.

Indeed, autonomy is often cited as the ground of treating all individuals equally from a moral point of view. But if autonomy is not an all-or-nothing characteristic, this commitment to moral equality becomes problematic Arneson It can be argued that insofar as the abilities required for autonomy, such as rational reflectiveness, competences in carrying out one's decisions, and the like, vary across individuals within or between species as well , then it is difficult to maintain that all autonomous beings have equal moral status or that their interests deserve the same weight in considering decisions that affect them.

The move that must be made here, I think, picks up on Korsgaard's gloss on Kantianism and the argument that our reflective capacities ultimately ground our obligations to others and, in turn, others' obligations to regard us as moral equals. Arneson argues, however, that people surely vary in this capacity as well — the ability to reflectively consider options and choose sensibly from among them.

Recall what we said above concerning the ambiguities of Korsgaard's account concerning the degree to which the self-reflection that grounds obligation is idealized at all. If it is, then it is not the everyday capacity to look within ourselves and make a choice that gives us moral status but the more rarified ability to do so rationally, in some full sense. But we surely vary in our ability to reach that ideal, so why should our autonomy be regarded as equally worthy? The answer may be that our normative commitments do not arise from our actual capacities to reflect and to choose though we must have such capacities to some minimal degree , but rather from the way in which we must view ourselves as having these capacities.

We give special weight to our own present and past decisions, so that we continue on with projects and plans we make because all other things being equal we made them, they are ours, at least when we do them after some reflective deliberation. The pull that our own decisions have on our ongoing projects and actions can only be explained by the assumption that we confer status and value on decisions simply because we reflectively made them perhaps, though, in light of external, objective considerations.

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This is an all-or-nothing capacity and hence may be enough to ground our equal status even if perhaps, in real life, we exercise this capacity to varying degrees. Such a view might be buttressed with the idea that the attribution of autonomous agency, and the respect that purportedly goes with it, is itself a normative stance, not a mere observation of how a person actually thinks and acts for discussion of this position see Christman and Korsgaard Autonomy is the aspect of persons that undue paternalism offends against. Paternalistic interventions can be both interpersonal governed by social and moral norms and a matter of policy mediated by formal or legal rules.

Such interventions are identified not by the kind of acts they involve but by the justification given for them, so that paternalism involves interference with a person's actions or knowledge against that person's will for the purpose of advancing that person's good. Respect for autonomy is meant to prohibit such interventions because they involve a judgment that the person is not able to decide for herself how best to pursue her own good. Autonomy is the ability to so decide, so for the autonomous subject of such interventions paternalism involves a lack of respect for autonomy.

See also Paternalism. But as our discussion of the nature of autonomy indicated, it is often unclear exactly what that characteristic involves. Important in this context is whether autonomy can be manifested in degrees — whether the abilities and capacities that constitute autonomy obtain all at once or progressively. If the latter is the case, then it is unclear that a blanket prohibition against paternalism is warranted. Some people will be less able to judge for themselves what their own good is and hence be more susceptible to justified paternalistic intervention Conly Often such an obligation toward another person requires us to treat her as autonomous, independent of the extent to which she is so concerning the choice in question.

At least this is the case when a person is autonomous above a certain threshold: she is an adult, not under the influence of debilitating factors, and so on. I might know that a person is to some degree under the sway of external pressures that are severely limiting her ability to govern her life and make independent choices. But as long as she has not lost the basic ability to reflectively consider her options and make choices, if I intervene against her will for her own good , I show less respect for her as a person than if I allow her to make her own mistakes.

Which is not to say, of course, that intervention in such cases might not, in the end, be justified; only that something is lost when it is engaged in, and what is lost is a degree of interpersonal respect we owe each other. However, as we saw in the last section, this move depends on the determination of basic autonomy and an argument that such a threshold is non-arbitrary. Also relevant here is the question of procedural versus substantive autonomy as the ground of the prohibition of paternalism.

As I mentioned above, the response to this challenge must be that the decision making capacity itself is of non-derivative value, independent of the content of those decisions, at least if one wishes to avoid the difficulties of positing a substantive and hence non-neutral conception of autonomy as the basis for interpersonal respect.

This is merely a sampling of some of the central ways that the idea of autonomy figures in moral philosophy. Not discussed here are areas of applied ethics, for example in medical ethics, where respect for autonomy grounds such principles as that of informed consent. Such contexts illustrate the fundamental value that autonomy generally is thought to represent as expressive of one of the fundamentals of moral personhood. The conception of the autonomous person plays a variety of roles in various constructions of liberal political theory for recent discussion, see, e. Principally, it serves as the model of the person whose perspective is used to formulate and justify political principles, as in social contract models of principles of justice Rawls Also and correspondingly it serves as the model of the citizen whose basic interests are reflected in those principles, such as in the claim that basic liberties, opportunities, and other primary goods are fundamental to flourishing lives no matter what moral commitments, life plans, or other particulars of the person might obtain Kymlicka , 10—19, Waldron —6.

Keornahan , Cornell , Young , Gould ; cf. For our purposes here, liberalism refers generally to that approach to political power and social justice that determines principles of right justice prior to, and largely independent of, determination of conceptions of the good though see Liberalism ; see also Christman , ch. The fact of permanent pluralism of such moral conceptions is therefore central to liberalism. One manner in which debates concerning autonomy directly connect to controversies within and about liberalism concerns the role that state neutrality is to play in the justification and application of principles of justice.

Neutrality is a controversial standard, of course, and the precise way in which liberal theory is committed to a requirement of neutrality is complex and controversial see Raz , —64, Waldron , — Recall that some theorists view autonomy as requiring minimal competence or rationality along with authenticity, where the latter condition is fleshed out in terms of the capacity to reflectively endorse or not be alienated from aspects of oneself.

This conception of autonomy is adopted, according to its defenders, because doing so is the only way to ensure that autonomy is neutral toward all conceptions of value and the good that reasonable adults may come to internalize Dworkin Critics of this view have pointed to cases where it is imagined that persons adopt what we all would call oppressive and overly restrictive life situations but in a way that meets the minimal conditions of autonomy on proceduralist accounts, so that on such accounts they count as autonomous because of the self-governing processes by which they entered such oppressive conditions.

On the basis of such a judgment, they argue that normatively substantive conditions should be added to the requirements of autonomy, conditions such as the ability to recognize and follow certain moral or political norms See Benson , Wolf ; for criticism, see Berofsky , ch. This criticism suggests that considerations concerning the autonomous self cannot avoid questions of identity and hence whether the self of self-government can be understood independently of the perhaps socially defined values in terms of which people conceive of themselves; this is a subject to which we now turn.

Autonomy, as we have been describing it, certainly attaches paradigmatically to individual persons; it is not in this usage a property of groups or peoples. So the autonomy that grounds basic rights and which connects to moral responsibility, as this concept is thought to do, is assigned to persons without essential reference to other people, institutions, or traditions within which they may live and act.

Critics claim, however, that such a view runs counter to the manner in which most of us or all of us in some ways define ourselves, and hence diverges problematically from the aspects of identity that motivate action, ground moral commitments, and by which people formulate life plans.

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Autonomy, it is argued, implies the ability to reflect wholly on oneself, to accept or reject one's values, connections, and self-defining features, and change such elements of one's life at will. But we are all not only deeply enmeshed in social relations and cultural patterns, we are also defined by such relations, some claim Sandel , 15— For example, we use language to engage in reflection but language is itself a social product and deeply tied to various cultural forms. In any number of ways we are constituted by factors that lie beyond our reflective control but which nonetheless structure our values, thoughts, and motivations Taylor , 33f; for discussion see Bell , 24— To say that we are autonomous and hence morally responsible, bear moral rights, etc.

In a different manner, critics have claimed that the liberal conception of the person, reflected in standard models of autonomy, under-emphasizes the deep identity-constituting connections we have with gender, race, culture, and religion, among other things. These challenges have also focused on the relation of the self to its culture Margalit and Raz, , Tamir What is at issue from a policy perspective is that emphasis on the individual's self-government, with the cosmopolitan perspective that this entails, makes it difficult if not impossible to ground rights to the protection and internal self- government of traditional cultures themselves Kymlicka, This is problematic in that it excludes from the direct protection of liberal policies those individuals and groups whose self-conceptions and value commitments are deeply constituted by cultural factors.

Or, conversely, the assumption that the autonomous person is able to separate himself from all cultural commitments forestalls moves to provide state protection for cultural forms themselves, insofar as such state policies rest on the value of autonomy. There have been many responses to these charges on behalf of a liberal outlook e.

The most powerful response is that autonomy need not require that people be in a position to step away from all of their connections and values and to critically appraise them. Mere piecemeal reflection is all that is required. There is a clarification that is needed in this exchange, however. For insofar as defenders of liberal principles based on the value of autonomy claim that all aspects of a person's self-concept be subject to alteration in order to manifest autonomy, they needlessly exaggerate the commitments of the liberal position.

For such a view is open to the charge that liberal conceptions fail to take seriously the permanent and unalterable aspects of the self and its social position Young, , Our embodiment, for example, is often not something which we can alter other than marginally, and numerous other self-defining factors such as sexual orientation for some , native language, culture and race, are not readily subject to our manipulation and transformation, even in a piecemeal manner.

To say that we are heteronomous because of this is therefore deeply problematic. What must be claimed by the defender of autonomy-based liberalism is that the ability in question is to change those aspects of oneself from which one is deeply alienated or with which one does not identify, etc.

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For in those cases where, upon reflection, one experiences one's body, culture, race, or sexuality as an external burden constricting one's more settled and authentic nature, and still one cannot alter that factor, then one lacks autonomy relative to it see Christman, , ch. But if one feels fully at home within those unalterable parameters one does not lack autonomy because of that unalterability.

Several writers have claimed that proceduralist accounts of autonomy would wrongly attribute autonomy to those whose restricted socialization and stultifying life conditions pressure them into internalizing opressive values and norms, for example women who have internalized the belief in the social authority of husbands, or that only by having and raising children are their lives truly complete, and the like. If such women reflect on these values they may well endorse them, even if doing so is free of any specific reflection-inhibiting conditions. But such women surely lack autonomy, it is claimed; so only if autonomy includes a requirement that one be able to recognize basic value claims such as the person's own equal moral standing will that concept be useful in describing the oppressive conditions of a patriarchal society see, e.

These and related considerations have sparked some to develop an alternative conception of autonomy meant to replace allegedly overly individualistic notions. Environmental Values, 11 1 : Francione, G. Rain without thunder: The ideology of the animal rights movement. Philadelphia, P. Animals as persons: Essays on the abolition of animal exploitation. New York: Columbia University Press. Garner, R.

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Res Publica, 18 2 : A theory of justice for animals: Animal rights in a nonideal world. Hailwood, S. Bewildering Nussbaum: Capability justice and predation. Journal of Political Philosophy, 20 3 : Henderson, K. Relational approaches to animal ethics and the intuition of differential obligations Master's thesis, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada. Hinchcliffe, C. Animals and the limits of citizenship: Zoopolis and the concept of citizenship.

Journal of Political Philosophy, 23 3 : Hobson, K. Political animals? On animals as subjects in an enlarged political geography. Political Geography, 26 3 : Horta, O.

References

Zoopolis, intervention, and the state of nature. Ladwig, B. Against wild animal sovereignty: An interest-based critique of Zoopolis. List, C. Republican freedom and the rule of law.

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Democratic Autonomy: Public Reasoning about the Ends of Policy (Oxford Political Theory) [Henry S. Richardson] on ykoketomel.ml *FREE* shipping on. discussions. Richardson's Democratic Autonomy: Public Reasoning about the Ends of. Policy, part of the Oxford Political Theory Series, takes four strands of the .

Lovett, F. A general theory of domination and justice. Maynor, J. Republicanism in the modern world. Cambridge: Polity Press. Midgley, M. Animals and why they matter. Athens: University of Georgia Press. Milligan, T. The political turn in animal rights.