Normative competence, autonomy, and oppression

Feminist Philosophy Quarterly 8 (1) (2022)
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Natalie Stoljar posits that those who have internalized oppressive norms lack normative competence, which requires true beliefs and critical reflection. A lack of normative competence makes agents nonautonomous, according to Stoljar. This framework is thereby meant to address what she calls the “feminist intuition”—the intuition that oppressive norms are incompatible with autonomy. On my view, however, Stoljar’s normative competence account of autonomy is subject to a worrying problem. Her account misattributes nonautonomy to those who perpetrate the oppression, making those who are oppressed and those who oppress count as equally nonautonomous. I argue that this is implausible and demonstrate in this paper that we can establish an asymmetry of autonomy between those who oppress others and those who are made the target of oppression.

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Ji-Young Lee
University of Copenhagen


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