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Rethinking Autonomy – individual and collective

Methodology
Political theory
VIR07
Alon Helled
Università degli Studi di Torino
Bettina Lange
Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen

Tuesday 11:30 - 15:45 (19/04/2022)

Wednesday 12:00 - 17:15 (20/04/2022)

Thursday 14:45 - 18:00 (21/04/2022)

Friday 12:00 - 15:45 (22/04/2022)


Recent developments challenge extant conceptualisations of autonomy - individual autonomy in liberal political theory, and analyses of collective autonomy based on identity in political sociology and social theory. This applies to three developments in particular – the greater prominence of national sovereignty as a form of collective autonomy in public debates in several European countries (including the UK - sovereignty has been a key argument for Brexit - Poland and Italy); Covid 19 restrictions on people’s private lives and government expectations that citizens would autonomously self-manage their behaviour to comply with the restrictions; and the increasing emphasis on collective (global) political agency in order to address the ecological and climate crises. These developments have given greater urgency to liberal political theorists’ core interests : the nature, extent and normative force of individual autonomy, its relation to individual freedoms and rights, and how the latter relate to collective autonomy. Public debates regarding these developments also use arguments disputing liberal individualist assumptions. Regarding Covid 19 restrictions, for example, it has been argued that that individuals should delegate the authority over their personal lives to government or scientists. Debates regarding national sovereignty have used the argument that personal identities are formed and sustained by collective, traditional affiliations rather than by individual autonomous agency and that these affiliations therefore have a superior normative claim. These arguments can be theorised using conceptualisations in political sociology and social theory. Elias’ power-ratio figurational sociology between structure and agency and his argument that socialized individuals are constituted by mediated ‘second nature’ dispositions, and Bourdieu’s habitus in the context of his field theory are among the theoretical tools available to bridge individual and collective autonomy. Both approaches – individual autonomy in liberal political theory and identity and collective autonomy in political sociology and social theory – have complementary theoretical resources which could address the new challenges. Yet dialogue between these disciplines is limited to date. Political theory approaches based on Kantian moral autonomy link individual and collective agency in their categorical imperative/veil of ignorance thought experiments, but the extent to which these approaches are capable of addressing the new challenges remains largely unexplored. Individualist conceptions of autonomy have been questioned in two approaches in political theory, the relational approach to personal autonomy (Diana T. Meyers’ ‘autonomy competency’ is a good example) and interpretations of Kantian autonomy from a republican perspective. The workshop seeks to bring these different approaches to autonomy together to address the recent challenges identified. The workshop would explore the following questions : To what extent 1. do the understanding and the normative claims of liberal individual autonomy need to be rethought ? 2. are thought experiments using Kantian moral autonomy still useful political theory techniques ? 3. do republican interpretations of Kant offer new insights into the relationship between individual and collective autonomy ? 4. does the relationship between, and the normative ranking of, individual and collective autonomy need to be re-conceptualised ?

Participants: When drafting this proposal, we have invited members of the ECPR Kantian Standing Group to contact us with expressions of interest. We have received such expressions of interest from - to give some examples - scholars reconceptualising the relationship between personhood, autonomy and freedom, or rethinking Kant’s conception of autonomy from the perspective of the literature on ‘relational autonomy’, from scholars at various stages of their career (from advanced PhD candidates to professors) and from around the world including Hong Kong and Canada. Type of paper: The workshop theme has the potential to attract interest from scholars from a wide range of research backgrounds and with diverse research interests. While we welcome varied contributions from those in political theory and political philosophy, political sociology and social theory, and political science, and from Kant scholars, as well as cross-disciplinary contributions, we are interested in papers which address the specific workshop questions, and any empirical contributions would be selected because of the new insights they offer regarding these questions. Output : We are planning to collate some of or all the papers selected and presented at the workshop and submit them for publication. Depending on the nature of papers submitted and selected, this could be in the form of guest-editing a specialist journal. References: Bourdieu, P., Wacquant, L.J.D. (1992), An Invitation to Reflexive Sociology, Cambridge, Chicago Press University &Polity Press. Bourdieu, P. (1998), Practical Reason: On the Theory of Action, Stanford, Stanford University Press. Buss and Westlund (2018). “Personal Autonomy”. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy http://plato.stanford.edu. Delmotte, F. (2010), Termes clés de la sociologie de Norbert Elias, Vingtième Siècle. Revue d'histoire, No. 106, Norbert Elias et le 20e siècle: Le processus de civilisation à l'épreuve (avril-juin 2010), 29-36. Elias, N. (2000), The Civilizing Process. Sociogenetic and Psychogenetic Investigations [revised edition of 1994], Malden: Oxford, Blackwell Publishing. R. Forst (2013) "A Kantian Republican Conception of Justice as Nondomination", in A. Niederberger and P. Schink, Republican Democracy: Liberty, Law and Politics. Edinburgh: EUP. Hill (1989). “The Kantian Conception of Autonomy.” Christman (Ed). The Inner Citadel : Essays on Individual Autonomy. New York, Oxford University Press : 91-105. P. Kleingeld (2020) "Me, My Will, and I: Kant's republican conception of freedom of the will and freedom of the agent", in Studi Kantiani 33: 103-23. Meyers (2005). "Decentralizing Autonomy: Five Faces of Selfhood." Christman and Anderson (Eds). Autonomy and the Challenges to Liberalism. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press: 27-55. Rawls (1999). A Theory of Justice. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press. Revised edition.

Title Details
Quo Vadis? Putting Armenia on the Map of Local Autonomy in Europe View Paper Details
Justice: Binary for Legislation, Scalar for States View Paper Details
The reasons for good reasons: two complimentary conceptions of normative agency View Paper Details
Kant's concept of autonomy - individual and collective at the same time. View Paper Details
Kant and Relational Autonomy. Subservience, Respect for Oneself, and Respect for Others View Paper Details
Relations not Boundaries : Reconceptualising Individual Autonomy Rights View Paper Details
'Defending Relational Autonomy' View Paper Details
Relational Autonomy and Liberal Universalism View Paper Details
How Does and How Should Personal and Political Autonomy Considerations Feature in the ECtHR’s Margin of Appreciation? View Paper Details