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Freedom, Autonomy, and Self-Respect
• Metaphysical freedom —Freedom of the will, the
capacity of a person to act freely
• Causal determinism —The theory that
everything in the universe is entirely determined
by causal laws, so that whatever happens at any
given moment is the effect of some antecedent
• Political or social freedom —The unfettered
exercise of personal liberty in political or social
Freedom, Autonomy, and Self-Respect
From causal determinism, many argue that
we do not have metaphysical freedom (that
is, free will).
Libertarians assert that we do have free will,
that there are some actions in which the
individual is the sole (or decisive ) cause.
Compatibilists, or soft determinists, hold that
although everything is determined, we can
still be free as long as we act voluntarily.
Freedom, Autonomy, and Self-Respect
I Have a Dream —Martin Luther King, Jr.: A
call for justice, freedom, and brotherhood
Graduation—Maya Angelou: A story about
human dignity and moral sensitivity
Freedom, Autonomy, and Self-Respect
Autonomy—A person’s rational capacity for selfgovernance or self-determination—the ability to direct
one’s own life and choose for oneself.
In all major ethical systems, autonomy is revered.
Many assert that autonomous persons have intrinsic
worth precisely because they have the power to make
rational decisions and moral choices.
Autonomous persons must be treated with respect,
which means not violating their autonomy by ignoring
or thwarting their ability to choose their own paths and
make their own judgments.
Freedom, Autonomy, and Self-Respect
Existentialism Is a Humanism—Jean-Paul Sartre
What existentialists have in common is that
they believe existence precedes essence.
There is at least one being in whom existence
precedes essence, and this being is man.
The first principle of existentialism is that man
is nothing else but what he makes of himself.
Freedom, Autonomy, and Self-Respect
Existentialism Is a Humanism—Jean-Paul
• If God does not exist, everything is
• Man is condemned to be free.
• Forlornness comes from the realization
that God does not exist, and we must
face all the consequences of this.
Freedom, Autonomy, and Self-Respect
Servility and Self-Respect —Thomas E. Hill, Jr.
The servile person is morally defective
because he or she fails sufficiently to
respect the moral law, which demands
respect for all persons, including oneself.
Servility is a vice.
Self-sacrifice is always a sign of servility.