The Metaphysics of Autonomy: The Reconciliation of Ancient and Modern Ideals of the Person
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If we want to be autonomous, what do we want? The author shows that contemporary value-neutral and metaphysically economical conceptions of autonomy, such as that of Harry Frankfurt, face a serious problem. Drawing on Plato, Augustine, and Kant, this book provides a sketch of how 'ancient' and 'modern' can be reconciled to solve it. But at what expense? It turns out that the dominant modern ideal of autonomy cannot do without a costly metaphysics if it is to be coherent.
ourselves with this giddy empty will?’ (Murdoch 1970a: 36). However, not only in existentialism, but also in Hare’s and Hampshire’s theories of freedom,21 the moral agent’s freedom is the freedom to withdraw, survey the facts, and choose again. The question is now, according to Murdoch, ‘whether the idea of the proud, naked will directed towards right action is a realistic and sufficient formula’ (Murdoch 1999 (1970c): 368). After the Enlightenment, Romanticism, and Liberalism, ‘we have been left
suggested between the Platonic ideal, on the one hand, and the modern ideal of autonomy, on the other hand. This is essential in view of my efforts to reconcile them and to arrive at a synthesis. Murdoch and Platonic vision We have seen how Murdoch critiques the existentialist view of freedom and (therefore) of autonomy. However, she offers not only a critique, but also claims to defend a different view of freedom. It remains to be seen whether this is indeed a different view or not, and whether
means to prevent myself from being ruled by other people’s aims, norms, desires (no outer autonomy), or by my own uncontrolled desires, lacking inner harmony and order (no inner autonomy). To use the metaphor of the boat again: If the captain doesn’t know where he’s going, how can he rule the crew members? I will now further clarify my argument by considering the following objection. It could be argued that we moderns can do without any ‘magnetic pole’, that reason is enough. To answer this
Part I as a whole, in particular the solution to the infinite regress problem presented in Chapter 4, on the one hand, and an ‘antithesis’ in the form of alternatives to the ‘costly’ (in the way I have defined costly above) solution proposed in Part I. Part II This page intentionally left blank Introduction In Part I, I attempted to reconcile the dominant modern ideal of the autonomous person with ancient ideals I articulated using Plato and Augustine. But has this attempt been successful?
judging my values, choices, and actions, and that, therefore, to the extent that autonomy matters to me, what others do matters too. Since in judging myself I ask what could be willed by all, I do judge others too. I think that this is part of what Sartre meant when he said that in choosing for me I choose for all. Another argument is that because, when judging and justifying my actions (for) myself, I reason, I can – in principle at least – communicate these reasons to others. I can justify