Dissertation > Social Sciences > Sociology > Social structure and social relations

The Study on the Weak Social-relational Autonomy

Author WangXiaoMei
Tutor CongHangQing
School Zhejiang University
Course Philosophy
Keywords Autonomy Morality Weak Social-relational Autonomy GlobalAutonomy Contextual Autonomy
CLC C912
Type PhD thesis
Year 2013
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Traditional theories of autonomy as psychological authenticity, like procedural autonomy and substantive autonomy, in effect assimilate autonomy with respect to one’s preferences, values, or choices with the autonomy of persons, as if what can be predicated of the former can be predicated of the latter. On the one hand, such an aspect they choose to analyze autonomy presents an internal tendency. On the other hand, the autonomy of reasons-responsiveness model and responsiveness-reasoning model seem to carry an external breath, we call it weak externalism, as they have begun to turn a little bit to the norms and rules for the agent to depend upon when making critical reflection. Nevertheless, like the substantive and the procedural theory of autonomy, the two models fix the focus on the "agent", the man isolated from the society.Accounts of autonomy as identification or authenticity are preeminent, but of late have been challenged by "relational" approaches to autonomy. Marina Oshana claimed that personal autonomy, understood as self-government, is a social-relational phenomenon. Autonomy is a condition of persons constituted in large part by the social relations people find themselves in and buy the absence of other social relations. Social-relational account contends that factors external to a person’s psychological profile are necessary to the formation of autonomy. But such a theory overemphasizes the importance and function of the external social conditions. Thus we call it strong social-relational autonomy.In view of the problems the traditional and strong social-relational autonomy facing respectively, we develop a weak social-relational autonomy, which carries a stronger sense than the weak externalism does, and is weaker than Oshana’s. Our analysis of the theory of autonomy is carried out from two angles, both internal and external, meanwhile, we’ve changed the object of study from "an isolated man" to "a social man", such a kind of theory developed by us, we call it weak social-relational autonomy. Unlike the autonomy theory of the internalists, as the theory holders of weak social-relational autonomy, we do not view autonomy as a condition that supervenes on psychological states. And we do not focus only on the normative standards or rules on which the agent depends to exercise his critical reflection, which probably is what the weak externalists inclined to do. Certainly as well, we do not consider the external social conditions as decisive condition for personal autonomy. The idea we hold, can avoid a series of problems that the above concepts may confront.According to the time span and the target duration of some specific autonomous action, we classify autonomy into two types, contextual autonomy and global autonomy. Global autonomy is an idea of autonomy as a comprehensive condition of persons rather than a transient characteristic, which centers on the overall individual life, rather than on a certain thing of a certain respect. Contextual autonomy, on the contrary, is a fragment of the global, but global autonomy does not require any fragments to be autonomous. Not only need the global autonomy take into account the agent’s inner conditions as self-regulation, self-control, etc., but also his social status, social connections, etc. all that may hold in the agent’s autonomy.There is another bright spot in this paper. As we know, the majority of contemporary theorists of autonomy are keen to differentiate moral autonomy from personal autonomy, but we prefer to a different point of view, that is, moral autonomy is a contextual autonomy of personal global autonomy.

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