Autonomi - realitet eller ideal?

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This work investigates the concept of autonomy in three contexts: in constitutional law (SA), in the philosophy of Immanuel Kant (KA) and in the contemporary philosophical discussion on personal autonomy (PA). Tracing the concept of autonomy historically, we highlight similarities and dissimilarities between different definitions. For example, Kant’s account of self-legislation is traced back to Samuel von Pufendorf’s theory of legislation. The main aim is to describe the difference between a descriptive and a normative interpretation of autonomy.

Autonomy is presented as a relational concept, being on the one hand commonplace and concrete – individuals are mutually intertwined through various social relations and states of dependence – yet having also logical and conceptual aspects, in this work illustrated by a model where one entity (X) is autonomous in relation to another entity (Y) regarding a right or a capacity (Z). The X-Y-Z-model is applied throughout in the three above-mentioned contexts.

Two main issues are discussed in the thesis:

First, the contemporary discussion is characterized by the transition from “ought” to “is” – an inverse naturalistic fallacy, as it were. Personal autonomy is described as being factual, a psychological capacity people possess to a varying extent, but without any positive evidence presented for it being humanly possible. Being only seemingly descriptive, the concept is in fact normative, and the point of departure is an ideal outlook on human beings – how people should, or ought to, be. Thus, PA seems to imply that if human beings should, or ought to, be some certain way, then they are or can be in that way.

A person’s irrationality and his lack of reason, however, is substantiated precisely by the fact that he, in spite of compelling evidence to the contrary, does not realize, or does not want to realize, that he is not solely rational or ruled by his intellect. In other words, it is not evident whether personal autonomy is a matter of theoretical reasoning, hypotheses, ideals or empirically established facts and realities regarding the autonomy of human beings. This is not entirely manifest in Kant’s account either, which leads to the second issue.

Kant may, on one hand, as advocated in this work, be interpreted as presenting an ethical theory – hypotheses, ideals defining how human beings ought to be, that clearly differs from how he describes them to be. If, on the other hand, Kant is read as intending his theory to be put into practice in mundus sensibilis, then he joins the vast majority of thinkers, idealists, utopists, who through the centuries have insisted that their theories are applicable in practice, if not in the present, at least in an indeterminate future; if human beings were only a little less irrational, a little less predictably unpredictable, a little less controlled by their emotions and impulses, i.e. if man were what he is not, he would be able to live according to the ideals of reason.
Bidragets titel på inmatningsspråkAutonomy - ideal or reality?
Tilldelande institution
  • Filosofiska institutionen
  • Olsson, Erik J, handledare
Tilldelningsdatum2014 nov 1
Tryckta ISBN978-91-7623-093-0
StatusPublished - 2014

Bibliografisk information

Defence details

Date: 2014-11-01
Time: 10:15
Place: Föreläsningssalen, Pufendorfinstitutet, Sölvegatan 2, Lund

External reviewer(s)

Name: Hansson, Sven Ove
Title: Professor
Affiliation: Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan, Stockholm


Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

  • Filosofi


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