Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Dissertations that have an embargo placed on them will not be available to anyone until the embargo expires.

Author ORCID Identifier

https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3887-112X

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Philosophy

Year Degree Awarded

2020

Month Degree Awarded

May

First Advisor

Hilary Kornblith

Second Advisor

Peter Graham

Third Advisor

Sophie Horowitz

Fourth Advisor

Tara Mandalaywala

Subject Categories

Ethics and Political Philosophy | Feminist Philosophy

Abstract

While it is intuitive to many that oppressive socialization undermines autonomy in virtue of its ability to shape the desires and values of the oppressed, it’s difficult to provide a plausible account of autonomy that can explain when and why socialization is autonomy undermining. I provide such an account, arguing that self-respect is a necessary condition for autonomous choice and that oppressive socialization functions in part by undermining the self-respect of the oppressed. On my account, our choices lack autonomy to the degree that they are motivated by a failure to respect ourselves as beings whose plans and desires matter as much as anyone else’s; whose capacity for rational deliberation and practical reasoning are valuable; and whose particularities and interests contribute to our value. This theory of personal autonomy is able to account for the lack of autonomy in a wide range of cases, for example, a cult member being brainwashed by a cult leader, or a wife being subservient to her husband. I defend this account against objections which claim that it is disrespectful to the oppressed to claim that their autonomy is undermined by their oppression, and in the final chapter, I expand my theory to explain not only what our minds must be like for us to be autonomous, but also what the world outside of us must be like.

Share

COinS