Republican autonomy : extending freedom as non-domination

  • Ezechiel THIBAUD

Student thesis: PhD Thesis (Lingnan)


In political philosophy, the concept of autonomy is often associated with liberalism: it serves as a justification for the liberal values of state neutrality and value pluralism, and seems coherent with the liberal definition of freedom as the absence of interference. Neo-republicans have pointed out that freedom as non-interference fails to acknowledge the fact that one may be unfree while non-interfered with, while on the other hand, not all forms of interference are freedom-limiting. They have proposed to replace the concept by freedom as non-domination, which they define as the absence of actual or possible arbitrary interference. Although their definition is promising, neo-republicans tend to neglect the concept of self-government and therefore, are vulnerable to the same accusations of incompleteness faced by liberals. By focusing on the negative part of freedom as non-domination, they have omitted two aspects: first, that there are other ways to be unfree than to be the subject of mere arbitrary interference, and second, that the real value of non-domination is the capacity to act as a non-dominated being, which requires a level of self-mastery. To fix this problem, I propose an extension of the concept of non-domination and argue that the theory would benefit from including autonomy in the list of its conditions for freedom. Following the republican idea that one is only free in a free state, I propose a definition of republican autonomy that is political in nature, and depends on globalized nondomination.
Date of Award18 Feb 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Lingnan University
SupervisorDerek Clayton BAKER (Supervisor) & Andrea SAUCHELLI (Co-supervisor)

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