The Autonomy of Preferences

Robert E. Goodin

in Reflective Democracy

Published in print February 2003 | ISBN: 9780199256174
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191599354 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Political Theory

The Autonomy of Preferences

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This is the first of two chapters on preference democracy, and defends the Enlightenment model of social life, and the form of democratic individualism that flows from it, against communitarian challenges. It begins by briefly characterizing the sort of notions of liberal autonomy that underlie the Enlightenment model, and counterposing that even more briefly to the new communitarian rivals. Next, it describes the sort of ‘community’—a ‘community of interests’—that makes most immediate sense in terms of the Enlightenment model, showing that it is rather more expansive than communitarian caricatures of it might often lead us to suppose. Goes on to discuss various other sorts of ‘community’ to which new communitarian writing sometimes points, and then sketches the sort of accommodation that the liberal Enlightenment model can make to those various forms of communitarian challenge. Lastly, all this is reapplied to democratic theory proper, showing what difference these rival understandings of the nature of community make to how we understand democratic deliberation.

Keywords: communitarian model; community; democratic deliberation; democratic individualism; democratic theory; Enlightenment model; individualism; models of democracy; preference democracy

Chapter.  10595 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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