The Right Of Autonomy Essay Research Paper

The Right Of Autonomy Essay, Research Paper

The Right of Autonomy

Political philosophy is the philosophy of the state. A state is a

group of people who have supreme authority within a given territory or over a

certain population, according to Wolf. Authority then, is the right to command

and the right to be obeyed which is different from power. Power in Wolff’s terms,

is the ?ability to compel compliance.? Moral autonomy is ?a submission to laws

which one has made for oneself.? Wolf believes that there is a problem between

authority and autonomy. Autonomy overrides the importance of authority. He

also thinks that classical democracy fails to be a solution to this problem.

An autonomous person is not subject to the will of another. This is

thought to be the primary obligation of man. In political philosophy, autonomy

is a refusal to be ruled, and authority of the state is the right to rule, there

is a conflict. If a man fulfills his obligation to autonomy, then he will go

against the claim by the state to have authority over him. Wolf states, ?He

will deny that he has a duty to obey the laws of the state simply because they

are the laws.? This is the major conflict with political authority. Some

philosophers believe that a solution to this problem is the concept of


This argument says that if men rule themselves then they would be both

the law givers and followers, combining autonomy with authority. ?His

obligation to submit to the laws stems not from the divine right of the monarch,

nor from the hereditary authority of a noble class, but from the fact that he

himself is the source of the laws which govern him.?

Wolf doesn’t think that it fully solves the problem between authority

and autonomy. A unanimous direct democracy is the closest to resolving the

conflict, yet in only exists in theory. Representative democracy seems to solve

the problems of unanimous direct democracy, but it too, has its problems. Its

problems lie in the fact that it is incredibly difficult for everyone to be

truly represented. If one is not, then their autonomy is sacrificed. Another

possible democratic solution is majoritarian democracy. The problem with this

comes with those people who are in the minority. The minority voice is limiting

their autonomy because they are obeying something that they do not will. Here

Wolf again shows democracy fails to solve the problem between authority and


In conclusion, Wolf believes that there is a problem with the concept of

political authority. It conflicts with man’s obligation to autonomy. If a man

fulfills his obligation to autonomy, then he will reject the authority of the

state, resulting in philosophical anarchy. Democracy seemed to be a solution to

this problem, but Wolf quickly showed how it failed. Democracy took away the

autonomy of the minority. He states, ?If democracy is to make good its title as

the only morally legitimate form of politics, then it must solve the problem of

the heteronomous minority.?

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