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Gerald Dworkin on Autonomy - Dictionary of Arguments

Gaus I 103
Autonomy/Dworkin, Gerald/Gaus: (...) to Gerald Dworkin, ‘[w]hat makes an individual the particular person he is is his life plan, his projects. In pursuing autonomy, one shapes one’s life, one constructs its meaning. The autonomous person gives meaning to his life’ (1988(1): 31).
Gaus: Such visions of autonomy retain much of the structure of nineteenth-century self-realization perfectionism, while making less of the idea of a rich development of one’s capacities. The notion of a coherent plan of life was central to nineteenth-century self-realization theory (Gaus, 1983a(2): 34–44); the idea of a project or a plan points to a coherent and integrated set of ends. To the extent that a conception of personal autonomy presupposes a certain rational structure of ends, or a
Gaus I 104
rationally constructed plan, it invites the elitist and paternalist objections raised against nineteenthcentury liberal perfectionism.
VsDworkin, Gerald: These problems are mitigated by conceptions of autonomy according to which ‘the fundamental idea in autonomy is that of authoring one’s own world without being subject to the will of others’ (Young, 1986(3): 19). >Autonomy/Gaus, >Individual/Mill, >Liberalism/Gaus.


1. Dworkin, Gerald (1988) The Theory and Practice of Autonomy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
2. Gaus, Gerald F. (1983a) The Modern Liberal Theory of Man. New York: St Martin’s.
3. Young, Robert (1986) Personal Autonomy: Beyond Negative and Positive Freedom. London: Croom-Helm.

Gaus, Gerald F. 2004. „The Diversity of Comprehensive Liberalisms.“ In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications.


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Dworkin I
Ronald Dworkin
Taking Rights Seriously Cambridge, MA 1978

Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004


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