Personal Autonomy in Society: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Personal Autonomy in Society

1st Edition

By Marina Oshana


204 pages

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People are socially situated amid complex relations with other people and are bound by interpersonal frameworks having significant influence upon their lives. These facts have implications for their autonomy. Challenging many of the currently accepted conceptions of autonomy and of how autonomy is valued, Oshana develops a 'social-relational' account of autonomy, or self-governance, as a condition of persons that is largely constituted by a person’s relations with other people and by the absence of certain social relations. She denies that command over one's motives and the freedom to realize one's will are sufficient to secure the kind of command over one's life that autonomy requires, and argues against psychological, procedural, and content neutral accounts of autonomy. Oshana embraces the idea that her account is 'perfectionist' in a sense, and argues that ultimately our commitment to autonomy is defeasible, but she maintains that a social-relational account best captures what we value about autonomy and best serves the various ends for which the concept of autonomy is employed.


'Marina Oshana's development of a social-relational account of autonomy makes a major contribution to contemporary philosophical work on personal autonomy. Her insightful attention to the value of autonomy for socially and politically situated creatures, such as we are, yields important critiques of psychological and procedural theories of autonomy. Scholars and students alike will learn much from Oshana's subtle and clearly reasoned book.' Professor Paul Benson, Department of Philosophy and Associate Dean, University of Dayton, Ohio, USA 'Oshana criticizes purely "internalistic" and non-relational accounts of personal autonomy. She offers her own, "social-relational" account, according to which it is a necessary feature of personal autonomy that one stands in certain relations to others in a social context. The critiques are penetrating, and Oshana's theory is original and important. This excellent book will be of interest both to political philosophers and also those interested in debates about freedom, moral responsibility, and causal determinism. Highly recommended.' John Martin Fischer, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy , University of California, Riverside, USA ’This work is an excellent example of traditional analytical philosophy…very well written, thoroughly documented, insightful, and rife with elucidating examples…this is certainly an excellent college-level textbook that many philosophers will find engaging and useful in the classroom…Highly recommended.’ Choice ’Oshana does an excellent job of developing a new and striking alternative account of autonomy, contrasting it with more traditional individualistic and less socially related accounts that she explains well… Anyone working on or studying autonomy and related issues will find the book of enormous value and will learn a great deal… Oshana succeeds admirably in accomplishing her worthy goal of contributing to the dialogue and engaging readers in all the rich and complex a

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; The concept of autonomy; The inner citadel - autonomy as psychological authenticity; Social-relational autonomy; The conditions for personal autonomy; Objections from liberalism; The value of autonomy; What kind of freedom does autonomy require?; Loose ends and parting thoughts; Bibliography; Index.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PHILOSOPHY / Political