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By Marilyn Friedman

Girls have traditionally been avoided from dwelling autonomously by way of systematic injustice, subordination, and oppression. The lingering results of those practices have caused many feminists to view autonomy with suspicion. the following, Marilyn Friedman defends the right of feminist autonomy. In her eyes, habit is self sufficient if it accords with the desires, cares, values, or commitments that the actor has reaffirmed and is ready to maintain within the face of competition. through her account, autonomy is socially grounded but additionally individualizing and occasionally socially disruptive, features that may be eventually constructive for ladies. Friedman applies the concept that of autonomy to domain names of detailed curiosity to girls. She defends the significance of autonomy in romantic love, considers how social associations may still reply to ladies who decide to stay in abusive relationships, and argues that liberal societies should still tolerate minority cultural practices that violate women's rights as long as the ladies in query have selected autonomously to dwell based on these practices.

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What we may culturally prefer to idealize for harsh conditions is not action according to what people find they “really” care about under these conditions, since harsh conditions may pervert our values and bring out the worst in many of us. For harsh conditions, we might be far better off idealizing action according to genuinely noble values, whether or not these are what people “really” care about in hard times. Under pervasively harsh conditions, we are more likely each to need the support of others, and may want to inspire each other not merely to follow her own heart, but to struggle to preserve heroic values and mutual concern, values that enable us to do our best for each other just at those times when we are most dependent on each other for survival itself.

A valiant, noble, inspiring sort of autonomy emerges when someone stubbornly preserves or pursues what she deeply cares about during a time of suffering or tragedy and against hostile opposition. We should not be too quick to accept a conception of autonomy that ignores, as nonautonomous, those lives that are forced to cope with tragic dilemmas. ”29 What matters to a person, what she deeply cares about in a way that defines her identity and character, is not simply what matters to her under pleasant conditions.

The substance of what someone chooses is never sufficient by itself to entail that someone has not chosen autonomously. Instead, we must know something about how or why she made the choice she did; this may require knowing something about the conditions she is coping with or under which she was raised. Because these circumstances are often difficult to discern in particular cases, people’s choices tend, on a content-neutral approach, to be regarded as respectworthy more often than not. 25 On a substantive conception of autonomy, by contrast, someone’s choices cease to be respectworthy as choices if they show undue deference, submissiveness, dependence, or servility.

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