Exchanging Autonomy

Reply Fri 6 Nov, 2015 04:35 am
Hallo to everyone. I had the pleasure to discover this forum and, from the threads that I read, I can say that this website is pretty interesting and useful. I am an economist with a strong interest for philosophy, and in particular authors such as Aristotle, Rousseau, Kant, Arendt, Rawls, Habermas. In this thread I would like to get your opinions, questions and suggestions on an idea that I conceived a few years ago, and which is described in my book "Exchanging Autonomy. Inner Motivations as Resources for Tackling the Crises of Our Times".
In this work I defined three kinds of autonomy (relational, functional and existential autonomy) and I proposed some instruments to promote them in our societies. Moreover, I highlighted how these instruments might be useful to deal with issues such as pollution and financialization of the economy.
In a nutshell, I defined relational autonomy as the condition whereby the role (worker, consumer, etc.) that we decide to assume in reality is the cause and not the consequence of our relations with other individuals. For instance, we can think of the person who chooses his friends on the basis of what he likes to do, instead of choosing what he likes to do on the basis of his friends.
Functional autonomy is the condition whereby the role assumed is the consequence and not the cause of the judgement expressed on reality. For instance, we can think of the consumer who decides to purchase some good on the basis of values such as the protection of national industry or respect for the environment, whereas other consumers see values only as a reflection of their preexisting preferences.
Finally, existential autonomy is the condition whereby the individual chooses some values as a consequence and not as the cause of the perception of his own dignity. In this case, an individual might think that his dignity is the basis on which he can choose some values.
I think that relational autonomy is necessary for an individual to be functionally autonomous, and functional autonomy is necessary for existential autonomy.
I also observed that: relational autonomy implies undertaking actions with characteristics such as rationality; functional autonomy requires choosing some values with characteristics such as the possibility to judge the whole reality; existential autonomy implies the adoption of metavalues. Values can be moral, organizational, cultural, whereas metavalues are elements behind a given value, such as quality of one's relations, which can justify the choice of professionalism as a value.
Among proposals to promote autonomy in our society, I defined exchanges of values and metavalues, as transactions which would imply the transmission of documents testifying the importance of particular inner motivations. Individuals could therefore acquire values independent of their social role, and therefore become functionally autonomous, and metavalues, and therefore become existentially autonomous. Exchanges of values and metavalues could have significant positive impacts in dealing with issues such as pollution and financialization, by giving a public role to inner motivations.
I would be grateful for any reaction on this.
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Reply Sat 7 Nov, 2015 05:59 am
Your concepts for relational autonomy appear to be premised on the arbitrary assignment of some variables as causes and others as effects. For one's role, you have arbitrarily assigned it the cause of who the role-selecter relates to. But what about the events that precede the selection of the role? Is there a role for these events?

One question I have is why you constructed the concept of three kinds of autonomy? If autonomous is autonomous, then what do the different flavors add to the overall concept? Do you get to existential only if relational and functional are demonstrated?
Reply Sat 7 Nov, 2015 07:42 am
Thank you.
By relational autonomy, I simply mean that the role that one chooses for himself or herself (what kind of consumer or citizen one is, what kind of work one performs) is not influenced by one's particular environment, i.e. by one's relations. Relational autonomy implies that I can say "these particular persons are my friends, neighbors and colleagues because I chose to behave in a certain way", whereas lack of relational autonomy implies that I will say "I behave in a certain way because these particular persons are my friends, neighbors and colleagues". This does not mean that other events and circumstances might not influence the role chosen by an individual who is autonomous in a relational sense, as this might be totally independent of the particular environment in which one lives.
The existence of three kinds of autonomy is linked with the existence of three ambits where we express our individuality: actions (aimed at changing reality or keeping it unchanged), judgements on reality (mainly expressed by our values) and the perception of one's dignity (that in a condition of existential autonomy I think is linked with metavalues).
As for the last question, yes, I think existential autonomy implies functional autonomy as a necessary (but not sufficient) condition, and functional autonomy implies relational autonomy.
Reply Sat 7 Nov, 2015 08:48 am
This does not mean that other events and circumstances might not influence the role chosen by an individual who is autonomous in a relational sense, as this might be totally independent of the particular environment in which one lives.

I'm still not clear on the role you would assign to the lifetime of experiences one has prior to the selection of a vocation. Are choices made because of them, despite them, or some other option?
Reply Sat 7 Nov, 2015 09:41 am
if by experiences we mean facts and events which contributed to a certain vision of the world and to the personal convictions of an individual (in a nutshell, to his or her values), then, yes, such experiences can contribute to his or her choice of a role in an autonomous (from a functional and relational point of view) person. But if by experiences we only mean some form of social pressure, external expectations or any circumstance which did not lead to a personal elaboration and interpretation of what is the right role to be assumed, then this is not compatible with relational autonomy.
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