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Taking the self out of self-rule

Garnett, Michael (2011) Taking the self out of self-rule. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice , pp. 1-26. ISSN 1386-2820.

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Many philosophers believe that agents are self-ruled only when ruled by their (authentic) selves. Though this view is rarely argued for explicitly, one tempting line of thought suggests that self-rule is just obviously equivalent to rule by the self. However, the plausibility of this thought evaporates upon close examination of the logic of ‘self-rule’ and similar reflexives. Moreover, attempts to rescue the account by recasting it in negative terms are unpromising. In light of these problems, this paper instead proposes that agents are self-ruled only when not ruled by others. One reason for favouring this negative social view is its ability to yield plausible conclusions concerning various manipulation cases that are notoriously problematic for nonsocial accounts of self-rule. A second reason is that the account conforms with ordinary usage. It is concluded that self-rule may be best thought of as an essentially social concept.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The original publication is available at
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy > Philosophy
Depositing User: Dr Michael Garnett
Date Deposited: 29 Nov 2012 17:01
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2013 12:33

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