The Argument from Autonomy

Jonathan Quong

in Liberalism without Perfection

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780199594870
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191723513 | DOI:
The Argument from Autonomy

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This chapter argues that Joseph Raz's autonomy-based version of the harm principle suffers from two serious problems. First, Raz's argument fails to yield a principled commitment to liberal toleration — it is instead contingent on certain empirical assumptions that should be irrelevant to a theory of liberal toleration. Second, the chapter shows that Raz's argument for the harm principle does not provide us with reasons to treat non-coercive state perfectionism differently than coercive perfectionism. Thus, if his harm principle precludes paternalistic coercion, it must also preclude the kinds of non-coercive perfectionist policies liberal perfectionists advocate. If successful, the objections in this chapter indicate that the value of autonomy cannot provide the foundation for liberal perfectionism in the way many contemporary perfectionists have assumed.

Keywords: autonomy; coercion; comprehensive liberalism; harm principle; liberal perfectionism; manipulation; Raz; subsidies

Chapter.  15066 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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