Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Eddy Nahmias

Second Advisor

Nicole Vincent

Third Advisor

Andrew I. Cohen


Most prominent accounts of autonomy are active accounts, which means they hold that an agent can be autonomous with respect to a given action only if that agent has appropriately sanctioned that action. Active accounts, however, are vulnerable to the regress problem, since it seems that the required sanctioning actions are themselves just actions that must be sanctioned. Passive accounts hope to avoid the regress problem by eschewing the notion that autonomous action requires agential sanction, but face in its place what I call the incompleteness problem for passive accounts. Here, I evaluate one passive account, recently defended by Sarah Buss, and argue that it can avoid the incompleteness problem only if it is supplemented by a satisfactory account of the development of autonomy. I then suggest that one development account, offered by Ishtiyaque Haji and Stefaan Cuypers, is an especially good supplement. My conclusion is that Buss’s account, supplemented in the way I suggest, can avoid the incompleteness problem.