This book concerns the foundations and implications of a particular form of liberal political theory. Colburn argues that one should see liberalism as a political theory committed to the value of autonomy, understood as consisting in an agent deciding for oneself what is valuable and living life in accordance with that decision. Understanding liberalism this way offers solutions to various problems that beset liberal political theory, on various levels. On the theoretical level, Colburn claims that this position is the only defensible theory of liberalism in current circulation, arguing that other more dominant theories are either self-contradictory or unattractive on closer inspection. And on the practical level, Colburn draws out the substantive commitments of this position in educational, economic, and social policy. Hence, the study provides a blueprint for a radical liberal political agenda which will be of interest to philosophers and to politicians alike.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgments Introduction: What is Liberalism? 1: Three Conceptions of Autonomy 2: A Theory of Autonomy 3: Autonomy and Anti–Perfectionism 4: Autonomy-Minded Liberalism 5: Multicultural Liberalism Conclusion Notes Bibliography Index
Ben Colburn is a Research Fellow at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge and
Affiliated Lecturer, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Cambridge. From September 2010 he will be a lecturer in philosophy at the University of Glasgow.