The Right of Autonomy :
Political philosophy is the philosophy of the state. A state is a group of people who have supreme authority within a given territory or over a certain population, according to Wolf. Authority then, is the right to command and the right to be obeyed which is different from power. Power in Wolff's terms, is the ability to compel compliance. Moral autonomy is a submission to laws which one has made for oneself. Wolf believes that there is a problem between authority and autonomy.
Autonomy overrides the importance of authority. He also thinks that classical democracy fails to be a solution to this problem. An autonomous person is not subject to the will of another. This is thought to be the primary obligation of man. In political philosophy, autonomy is a refusal to be ruled, and authority of the state is the right to rule, there is a conflict. If a man fulfills his obligation to autonomy, then he will go against the claim by the state to have authority over him. Wolf states, "He will deny that he has a duty to obey the laws of the state simply because they are the laws." This is the major conflict with political authority. Some philosophers believe that a solution to this problem is the concept of democracy.
This argument says that if men rule themselves then they would be both the law givers and followers, combining autonomy with authority. "His obligation to submit to the laws stems not from the divine right of the monarch, nor from the hereditary authority of a noble class, but from the fact that he himself is the source of the laws which govern him."
Wolf doesn't think that it fully solves the problem between authority and autonomy. A unanimous direct democracy is the closest to resolving the conflict, yet in only exists in theory. Representative democracy seems to solve the problems of unanimous direct democracy, but it too, has its problems. Its problems lie in the fact that it is incredibly difficult for everyone to be truly represented. If one is not, then their autonomy is sacrificed. Another possible democratic solution is majoritarian democracy. The problem with this comes with those people who are in the minority. The minority voice is limiting their autonomy because they are obeying something that they do not will.
Here Wolf again shows democracy fails to solve the problem between authority and autonomy. In conclusion, Wolf believes that there is a problem with the concept of political authority. It conflicts with man's obligation to autonomy. If a man fulfills his obligation to autonomy, then he will reject the authority of the state, resulting in philosophical anarchy. Democracy seemed to be a solution to this problem, but Wolf quickly showed how it failed. Democracy took away the autonomy of the minority. He states, "If democracy is to make good its title as the only morally legitimate form of politics, then it must solve the problem of the heteronomous minority."
More Essays on Philosophy
The Right of Autonomy :
The Right of Autonomy To HOME PAGE