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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Autonomy and the moral agent Partridge, Yolande Mary


The development of personal autonomy is often considered to be an important objective of education in general, and moral education in particular. This paper is an attempt to clarify what is meant by the concept of personal" autonomy, to justify its promotion as a personal and educational ideal, and to examine the connection between personal autonomy and moral agency. Four conditions are found to be necessary for the possession and exercise of personal autonomy: freedom of choice, authenticity, rational reflection and strength of will. The promotion of personal autonomy is justified on at least four kinds of grounds: for its extrinsic value, for its intrinsic worth, for its educational significance, and for its close conceptual connection with the notion of moral agency. The criterion of 'relating to other people's interests' is taken to be the most important factor in distinguishing between ordinary autonomous acts and acts of moral agency.

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