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Some feminist reflections on autonomy, self-respect, and the liberal state

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(Thesis) M.A.
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Recently, the women of a breakaway polygamist Mormon sect in Bountiful, B.C. defended their choice of religious beliefs, which are premised upon female submission and inferiority. In response to this case, I asked: what conditions must obtain in order that we can say that an individual has chosen autonomously? In this project, I offer a weakly substantive account of personal autonomy, which states that an autonomous individual must meet certain procedural conditions and must have self-respect. In addition, I argue that a weakly substantive account is attractive for feminist aims and for women in general. However, the account of personal autonomy I offer is problematic for political liberalism, in that political liberalism is committed implicitly to the account of personal autonomy that I have set forth. This raises questions around the claim that political liberalism does not favour any comprehensive doctrine in its political conception of justice.
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