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

Philosophical Review 129 (2):159-210 (2020)
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The starting point regarding consent has to be that it is both extremely important, and that it is often suspicious. In this article, the author tries to make sense of both of these claims, from a largely liberal perspective, tying consent, predictably, to the value of autonomy and distinguishing between autonomy as sovereignty and autonomy as nonalienation. The author then discusses adaptive preferences, claiming that they suffer from a rationality flaw but that it's not clear that this flaw matters morally or politically. What matters is whether they suffer from an autonomy flaw. To answer this question, the author develops an account of autonomy failure, according to which a preference is nonautonomous if an injustice played an appropriate role in its causal history. The author then discusses the moral implications—and in an initial way, the political ones as well—of proclaiming a preference, or consent based on it, nonautonomous in this way.

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David Enoch
Hebrew University of Jerusalem


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