Procedural autonomy and liberal legitimacy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

26 Scopus citations


A crucial issue in discussions of the nature of individual autonomy concerns whether a person can be properly calledautonomous if her value commitments contain (or fail to contain) certain substantive ideals, that is, whether “autonomy” can be conceptualizedwithout reference to such ideals. If not, the question is whether such a “content-neutral” or “procedural” conception of autonomy-one which is defined without including substantive values to which the autonomous person must be committed-will suffice in the theoretical and practical settings in which we want the concept to operate. At the same time, debates over the acceptability and found ations of liberalism have includedprotractedd iscussions about whether and how state neutrality can be maintainedin the principles and mod e of justification of liberal institutions. Debates about public reason, for example, have pittedper fectionists against proceduralists in asking whether it is plausible to expect participants to bracket reference to substantive, comprehensive values in affirming the basic framework of justice, as political liberalism demands.1 That is, can the processes of public reason that provide the grounds of legitimacy for liberal justice be fashionedin ways that do not rely upon particular substantive values in their architecture. These debates are clearly isomorphic in an interesting way and speak to questions of the nature of commitment, obligation, and independence. In this chapter, I want to consider certain aspects of these debates and to explore this parallelism. In both cases, I think, the question revolves aroundhow autonomy is meant to function in our moral and political vocabulary.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPersonal Autonomy
Subtitle of host publicationNew Essays on Personal Autonomy and its Role in Contemporary Moral Philosophy
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9780511614194
ISBN (Print)0521837960, 9780521837965
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


Dive into the research topics of 'Procedural autonomy and liberal legitimacy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this