H12(c) - Autonomy
Date: Jun 5 | Time: 02:00pm to 03:30pm | Location: ESB 2012
Chair/Président/Présidente : Rob Sparling (University of Ottawa)
Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Rob Sparling (University of Ottawa)
Who Decides When Necessity Reigns?: Judgment in the Court and at the Theatre: Ella Street (University of Toronto)
Abstract: Euripides’ Hecuba, a Greek drama, and Demosthenes’ On the Crown, a 4th century Athenian court speech, both deal extensively with invocations of political necessity, raising questions for their audience about what the “political” justifies and how claims about the public good should factor into their judgment. As part of a larger project that compares judgment in different contexts within a democratic polity, this article argues that the courts offered Athenians an opportunity to assert their autonomy, through their judgments, in response to situations (such as the battle of Chaeronea) where their autonomy was constricted or undermined. Conversely, Euripides' play offers its audience a chance to critically interrogate invocations of political necessity and the images of the public good such invocations imply. This article considers the promise and danger of both types of occasion for judgment for a polity that aims to be both democratic and just.
Cognitive Disability, Autonomy, and Political Participation: Rachael Desborough (University of Toronto)
Abstract: People with cognitive disabilities have long been excluded from considerations of political organization and what it means to be a political person. Prominent thinkers in the liberal contract traditional, such as Locke, require the capacity to reason in order to be considered a ‘person.’ For others like Kant, the freedom and equality associated with personal autonomy requires the capacity for abstract reasoning. The centrality of ‘reason’ to political inclusion and the associated rights and protections has excluded people with cognitive disabilities from the political realm. What’s more, for centuries, people with disabilities have been largely removed from the public realm, either through institutionalization or private care in the home. There is, therefore, both a social stigmatization and exclusion of people with cognitive disabilities, and little theorizing about what political participation might look like for people with less than perfect reason. This paper begins to address this gap. First, I consider the work of feminist and disability theorists addressing the shortcomings of liberal theories of personhood and autonomy. This includes efforts to reconceive of autonomy in relational terms in order to open up space for people with cognitive impairments. In the second section, I provide a response to these approaches and suggest there are reasons to be skeptical of pursuing autonomy as the sole means of recognition and inclusion in the public sphere. In the final section, I consider alternative ways of thinking about political participation that might provide meaningful political engagement. This includes reconsidering norms about independence, communication, and representation.
Beheading the King: Foucault, Political Resistance, and the Hermeneutics of the Self: Sid Simpson (University of Notre Dame)
Abstract: In this paper, I argue that Foucault takes up and radicalizes a theme beginning of Rousseau, and running through Nietzsche, Adorno and Horkheimer. This theme is that of internalization: namely that in society we unknowingly learn and retrench the conditions of our own domination. The fore-end of this paper will situate Foucault within this tradition, laying out the continuities (e.g. in terms of his genealogical methodology, radical critique of enlightenment, etc.) and ruptures (e.g. rejection of subjective interiority, focus on discursive formations, etc.). The paper will then proceed to lay out the two locus of resistance for Foucault: the first, through re-articulating discourses and redistributing power, and second, through engaging in a fashioning of the hermeneutics of the self that he likens to Nietzsche's 'gaya scienza.' Ultimately, I contend that Foucault's writings build upon the tradition of cultural critique that I lay out above, but break from them in terms of resistance these ills. While Rousseau and Nietzsche held out some hope for political intervention into the ills of society and Adorno and Horkheimer cast off political praxis altogether, Foucault articulates a mode of resistance that is not apolitical, but rather anti-political: seeking to dismantle the governmentality that produces modern subjectivity.
The Return of Antigone in Hegel's Philosophy of Right: The Problem of Women, Marriage, and the Family for Hegel's Architecture of Modern Freedom: Joshua Goldstein (University of Calgary)
Abstract: In Hegel’s The Phenomenology of Mind (1806), through the play Antigone, women, and the family first emerge within Hegel’s political philosophy both as the complete articulation, life, and truth of the ancient ethical order and the site of that order’s destruction. By the time Hegel returns to women’s and the family’s place within the modern state, in the Philosophy of Right (1821), they are now presented as fully contained and secured within the state’s larger ethical life. Indeed, the presence of the family and women seem now so unimportant to the larger architecture of freedom or ethicality he identifies within the modern political community, and Hegel’s characterization of the family appears so atavistic, that now omitting of the family as integral to freedom can appear the most profitable way to preserve and develop the relevance of Hegel’s political philosophy of freedom. Yet, by paying Hegel’s account of the family and the place close attention, we can uncover a great irony: just as Antigone marks for Hegel the destabilization of the ancient ethical system of the Greeks, the place of the family within Hegel’s own account of modern ethical life now destabilizes the unity of his own system of modern freedom. This paper explores four overlooked problems with Hegel’s account of the modern family, the dangers they pose to his architecture of freedom, and proposes a solution in the shaped sexually embodied freedom.