Title: Autonomy and Choices

Abstract: There is support for tying individuals’ autonomy to their making of choices in the correct way without regard to the outcomes of acting on those choices.  John Christman, for example, argues that autonomy refers to the effective ability to form intentions to act but does not depend on the successful completion of the chosen actions.  His concern is that personal autonomy should not be hostage to those random events over which an individual has no control.

Those random events, however, can stop a person ruling her life, thus vitiating autonomy.  There is an assumption in Christman’s argument that enough choices will be successfully acted on to support an argument for autonomy if the choices are appropriately made.  I will argue that this emphasis on choices with the assumption of successful actions should be reversed.  A stronger approach for the measure of autonomy is to emphasise the success of actions and assume that choices have been made.

Presenter: Christiaan van Oeveren, HDR candidate in the School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry