Autonomy as Non-Alienation, Autonomy as Sovereignty, and Politics
1 February 2020 | 12:00 EST | 17:00 GMT
An autonomous life – that is, a life which is shaped, to a considerable extent, by the values and choices of the person whose life it is – is, other things being equal, for this reason better than a life that lacks such self-directedness. But we should distinguish between autonomy understood as a harmony between one’s life and one’s deep commitments – which I call non-alienation – and autonomy understood as having the final word on the relevant issue – which I call sovereignty. Both non-alienation and sovereignty are of value, but what is the relation between them? I argue that non-alienation is the more fundamental value, but that sovereignty nevertheless achieves some independence from the value of non-alienation that ultimately grounds it. I also argue that when it comes to politics, it’s sovereignty rather than non-alienation that usually takes center stage. And I show – in a preliminary way – how the distinction between non-alienation and sovereignty and the relations between them is productive in thinking about nudging and about false consciousness.
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