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Colloquium: David Enoch

February 1, 2019 - 3:30pm to 5:30pm
Building 90, Room 92Q

free and open to the public

Title: False Consciousness for Liberals, Part I: Consent, Autonomy, and Adaptive Preferences


The starting point regarding consent has to be that it is both extremely important, and that it is often suspicious. In this paper, I try to make sense of both of these claims, from a largely liberal perspective. I tie consent, predictably, to the value of autonomy, distinguishing between autonomy as sovereignty and autonomy as non-alienation. I then discuss adaptive preference, claiming that they suffer from a rationality flaw (they are typically formed for reasons of the wrong kind), but that it’s not clear this flaw matters morally or politically. What matters is whether they suffer from an autonomy flaw. To answer this question I develop an account of autonomy-failure, according to which a preference is non-autonomous if an injustice played an appropriate role in its causal history. I then discuss the moral implications – and in an initial way, the political ones as well – of proclaiming a preference, or consent based on it, non-autonomous in this way.

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