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Title: Practising autonomy well : character, politics and education
Author: Andrews, R. W.
Awarding Body: University of Wales Swansea
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 2005
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This thesis aims to show that a right to be able to practice autonomy well lies at the heart of liberal aspirations for individual flourishing. In the past, autonomy was associated with metaphysical or essentialist conceptions of the self. However, the diversity of contemporary liberal societies has meant that liberals now seek new conceptual resources to underpin their normative theories. This is accomplished here by decontesting a doctrine which recognises that liberal acceptance of the malleability of the elf can generate certain moral aspirations associated with practising autonomy in a liberal society. It then aims to highlight that the normative content of these aspirations can be attractively conceptualised by reviving the currently neglected concept of character. A right to be able to practice autonomy well implies that agents in liberal societies should possess a certain sort of character to do so. A liberal concept of character has two aspects: moral and individual. These two aspects together provide normative content and criteria for a liberal character-ethics which can be promoted by the liberal state (and civil society) to enable agents in liberal societies to practice autonomy well. And the philosophical presuppositions of promoting this liberal character-ethics can be helpfully understood in quasi-Foucauldian terms as the inculcation of specifically liberal ‘technologies of the self’. The final chapter uses the liberal doctrine defended throughout the thesis to examine the normative cogency of the programme of political education currently being implemented in English secondary schools. The thesis then concludes by highlighting that liberal aspirations for character, politics and education must be confidently explicated if they are to shape the processes of ‘governmentality’ in liberal democracies.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available