Autonomy and Pluralism
Autonomy is an ideal of self‐creation, or self‐authorship; it consists in an agent's successful pursuit of willingly embraced, valuable options, where the agent's activities are not dominated by worries about mere survival. Autonomy in its primary sense is to be understood as the actual living of an autonomous life; autonomy in its secondary sense is to be understood as the capacity to live autonomously. To be autonomous, agents have to meet three conditions: they must possess certain mental capacities, they must have an adequate range of valuable options, and they must enjoy independence from coercion and manipulation. Autonomy should be distinguished from self‐realization, as autonomous persons may choose not to realize their capacities. Autonomy itself, in an environment that supports autonomy, is not similarly optional, as living autonomously is the only way of flourishing within an autonomy‐supporting environment.
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