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The Global Model of Constitutional Rights$
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Kai Möller

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199664603

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199664603.001.0001

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Two Conceptions of Autonomy

Two Conceptions of Autonomy

Chapter:
(p.44) 3 Two Conceptions of Autonomy
Source:
The Global Model of Constitutional Rights
Author(s):

Kai Möller

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199664603.003.0003

This chapter discusses two competing conceptions of personal autonomy: the excluded reasons conception and the protected interests conception. The excluded reasons conception — related to Ronald Dworkin's theory of rights — holds that in order to respect a person's autonomy, the state must not rely on certain (excluded) reasons in its treatment of him, in particular moralistic or paternalistic reasons. The chapter argues that this conception of autonomy, while coherent, cannot explain the broad scope of rights accepted today. The second and preferable conception — the protected interests conception — focuses directly on the actions and personal resources which are important for the purpose of leading an autonomous life. It is then possible to assess the weight of a specific autonomy interest with reference to its importance from the perspective of the self-conception of the agent. This approach is related but preferable to similar concepts used by courts and philosophers, such as the idea of developing one's personality, James Griffin's idea of living one's conception of a worthwhile life, or the idea of self-realisation.

Keywords:   Dworkin, Griffin, personal autonomy, excluded reasons, protected interests, moralism, paternalism, self-conception, self-realisation

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