Natalie Stoljar: "Ineffective Intentions"

  • Date: –17:00
  • Location: Zoom (contact Folke Tersman for link)
  • Organiser: Department of Philosophy
  • Contact person: Folke Tersman
  • Seminarium

The Higher Seminar in Practical Philosophy

(NB, day and time.)

Natalie Stoljar, McGill University: "Ineffective Intentions. How oppressive scripts undermine autonomy"

It is often claimed that oppression creates inauthentic (and therefore nonautonomous) values and desires. This paper first briefly outlines the different ways that autonomy theorists–particularly proponents of relational autonomy–have articulated the authenticity condition.  It argues that focusing on authenticity to explicate the problem of oppression is a mistake: authenticity is neither necessary nor sufficient for autonomy. More importantly, authenticity views place too little weight on how oppression undermines the reception of people’s intentions. The paper then highlights a necessary condition of autonomy that has often been overlooked, an “effective intentions” condition. It examines this condition in the light of a notion of social uptake that has been elaborated in the broader feminist philosophical literature but has not yet been employed in detail to explicate relational autonomy. I argue for a relational conception of the effective intentions condition: other people’s reliance on oppressive scripts undermines the social uptake and reception of intentions needed to secure their effectiveness. Thus, while authenticity accounts have made progress in explicating how oppression undermines autonomy, a shift of focus is needed. People are rendered non-autonomous by oppression not only due to distortions within themselves but also because others’ beliefs in oppressive scripts undermine the effectiveness of their intentions.