Home > creum, ethics, moral psychology, umontreal > Natalie Stoljar – Oppressive Norms and Failures of Individual Autonomy

Natalie Stoljar – Oppressive Norms and Failures of Individual Autonomy

Ateliers de psychologie morale
Axe d’éthique fondamentale, CRÉUM
Chaire d’éthique et de méta-éthique

Natalie Stoljar (McGill)
« Oppressive Norms and Failures of Individual Autonomy »
jeudi 10 avril, 11h00-13h00

abstract
The paper explores the question of whether agents who make choices and adopt preferences on the basis of norms that seem to promote their own oppression are acting autonomously. The paper argues, first, that attempts to answer this question generate a puzzle. On the one hand, both our intuitions about cases and recent theoretical positions analyzing the nature of oppression suggest that such agents are not exercising free agency and therefore that they are not acting autonomously. One the other hand, while it is true that taking oppressive norms as reasons for decision may be bad for the agent, or even bad or immoral tout court, it does not seem to follow that agents who do so are for that reason non-autonomous. It has been pointed out that the notion of autonomy – the notion of self-rule – should not be collapsed into another, logically distinct, notion, namely that of ‘orthonomy’ or right-rule. Secondly, the paper addresses Paul Benson’s solution to the puzzle. Rather than identify an agent’s response to oppressive norms as problematic because of the agent’s relation to the norms themselves, Benson argues that oppression undermines agents’ authority in their own decision-making. For Benson, it is agential authority that is the key ingredient in the exercise of autonomy. I consider some cases of decision within oppressive contexts from the point of view of oppressed agents, and argue that agential authority does not provide a satisfactory solution to the puzzle I identify at the beginning.

Local 422, 2910 Édouard-Montpetit, 3ème étage
Pour information : christine.tappolet@umontreal.ca

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