Volume 20, Issue 1, 2018
Symposium on Dualism and Physicalism
Stephen T. Davis
“Nobody Has the Right to Tell Me What to Believe or Do”
The Illusion of Human Autonomy
The word “autonomy” has many uses in contemporary philosophy and culture, some of them helpful. But Joel Feinberg says, “I am autonomous if I rule me, and no one else rules I.” Certain philosophers (among them, James Rachels) turn this sort of sentiment into an argument against religion. A principle of obedience to God—so they say—violates one’s personal autonomy. In the present paper, I reply to such arguments and try to sort out what is acceptable and what is unacceptable about autonomy.