Date of Award

Spring 4-13-2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Christie Hartley

Second Advisor

Sebastian Rand

Third Advisor

Andrew Altman

Fourth Advisor

Eddy Nahmias


On a standard philosophical conception, being autonomous is roughly equivalent to having some particular natural capacity. This paper provides argues that this conception is incorrect, or at least incomplete. The first chapter suggests that adopting an alternative conception of autonomy promises to resolve to several objections to the metaethical constitutivism, and so promises to provide highly desirable theory of moral reasons. The second chapter first motivates a broadly Kantian account of autonomous action, and then gives reasons to think that Kant's own development of this theory runs into damaging action-theoretic problems. The way to address these problems, I argue, is to modify Kant's account of autonomy in a way that leaves no room for the standard conception of autonomy to do any work.

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Philosophy Commons