Chapter

Assessing the Denial of Autonomy

Alfred R. Mele

in Autonomous Agents

Published in print November 2001 | ISBN: 9780195150438
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199869091 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195150430.003.0013
 Assessing the Denial of Autonomy

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Argues that it is more credible that there are autonomous human beings than that there are not. Agnostic autonomism is defended: the position affirms the existence of autonomous agents while being agnostic about whether the falsity of determinism is required for autonomy. The defense is based on an examination of the philosophical advantages and disadvantages of four positions: agnostic autonomism, compatibilist belief in autonomy, incompatibilist belief in autonomy (libertarianism), and the belief that there are no autonomous agents (nonautonomism). If compatibilism is true, there is a strong case – grounded partly in human experience – for the existence of autonomous human agents; even if compatibilism is false, the nonautonomist is no better off than the libertarian; and given the absence of a knockdown argument for incompatibilism, the agnostic autonomist has a significant edge over the nonautonomist.

Keywords: agnostic autonomism; autonomy; compatibilism; determinism; experience; incompatibilism; libertarianism

Chapter.  10410 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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