Relinquishing Control

Jennifer Nedelsky

in Law's Relations

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780195147964
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918133 | DOI:
Relinquishing Control

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Chapter 7 rejects the common identification of autonomy with control. Seeking control is not a path to autonomy, and control is not a component of autonomy. Control is not a respectful stance toward others with a capacity for autonomy. Indeed, the link between autonomy and control (and independence) is also a link to domination: the illusion of control and independence can only be sustained through domination. I use the fact of our embodied nature and the puzzles of the mind-body relationship to examine the puzzles of a capacity for autonomy that depends on relationships beyond one's control. Rethinking the connection between autonomy and control disrupts the autonomy-control-responsibility nexus that is central to law. I turn to a psychoanalytic account of the role of control and domination in the prevailing conception of autonomy. Here we also encounter the link between an optimal conception of autonomy and the capacity to engage with difference in a way that advances equality. Finally, I return to our embodied nature to reflect on the grain of truth in the conventional associations of control and independence with autonomy. I also suggest that a focus on the body offers paths out of the difficulties of conventional understandings and practices.

Keywords: autonomy; control; domination; body; mind-body; psychoanalytic; responsibility

Chapter.  16156 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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