Autonomy, Gender, Politics by Marilyn Friedman

By Marilyn Friedman

Ladies have traditionally been avoided from residing autonomously via systematic injustice, subordination, and oppression. The lingering results of those practices have brought on many feminists to view autonomy with suspicion. the following, Marilyn Friedman defends the best of feminist autonomy. In her eyes, habit is self sufficient if it accords with the wishes, cares, values, or commitments that the actor has reaffirmed and is ready to maintain within the face of competition. by way of her account, autonomy is socially grounded but additionally individualizing and infrequently socially disruptive, traits that may be eventually beneficial for ladies. Friedman applies the concept that of autonomy to domain names of specific curiosity to ladies. She defends the significance of autonomy in romantic love, considers how social associations should still reply to ladies who decide to stay in abusive relationships, and argues that liberal societies should still tolerate minority cultural practices that violate women's rights as long as the ladies in query have selected autonomously to stay in response to these practices.

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Plausible cases which fall within the fuzzy conceptual border regions surrounding our normative concepts are the only ones we should rely on as grounds for revising our ideals or specifying them more fully. Granted, there is probably some Smith or Jones in some possible world who makes choices on the basis of what she cares about, yet who seems “intuitively” to be quite nonautonomous, perhaps because her brain is being manipulated in a vat by an evil and bored cognitive scientist locked in a Chinese room.

There are still other social possibilities regarding autonomy. Thus, fourth, persons in communities or groups may enjoy autonomy as collectivities. Shared or collective autonomy is possible for persons engaged as joint agents who choose and act together as single units. Indeed, the original meaning of autonomy applied to states, governing collectivities, that were free of the political domination of other states. 17 It is particularly the former three of these conditions that my account of personal autonomy emphasizes.

This separation and distinctness grounds the possibility of attributing to persons a particular identity as well as a degree of separate agency based on her behavior. Autonomy requires individuation to begin with, itself at least partly a product of social practices of differential naming and differential characterizing. At the same time, autonomy is also a mode of (further) individuating. Autonomy involves practices by which physically separate selves, who are already characterized by differentiated nominal identities and spatiotemporal life narratives, may reinforce their distinctness from others and their mutual differentiation by acting on concerns of their own that are distinct from, and may conflict with, those of others.

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