“Autonomy for Who: The Fool, The Villain and The Innocent” by Goh Wee Kian Gary (12 Mar)

Reserving the right to autonomy for those with the capacity for autonomy seems innocuous at first. After all, why should the law protect some ability you do not possess? But when the right at stake is the right to direct one’s life, it is not so clear who does not possess this power. The problem may still appear marginal if people with mental disabilities are the only ones whose ability is so called into question. But if I can show that the political theory and cognitive neuroscience behind a capacity-implies-right model of autonomy could potentially withhold the average citizen’s right to autonomy, then this model starts to look more sinister. To build this case I examine the fundamental liberal principle as well as definitions of disability and autonomy. I argue that given the ambiguities in how disability and autonomy are defined, setting out to exclude people with mental disabilities from a right to autonomy will wind up being very illiberal.

Graduate Seminar Series.
Date: Tuesday, 12 Mar 2013
Time: 2pm – 4pm
Venue: Philosophy Resource Room (AS3-03-02) (Please note that we are not using our regular venue)
Speaker: Goh Wee Kian Gary, MA Student

About the Speaker

Gary’s background is in European history, politics and philosophy, but he is interested in Chinese and/or Buddhist philosophy. He is thus hoping to marry the two in ethical inquiry. Specifically, he is in it in the long haul to provide an account of a way of living that is ethical and prudent but does not assume much about normativity or objective values.

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