[SydPhil] FW: HARN Seminar: Preference Formation Frédéric Côté-Boudreau 20 September, 2016. RC Mills Building Room 148, 1 - 2pm.

Dinesh Wadiwel dinesh.wadiwel at sydney.edu.au
Mon Sep 5 15:45:29 AEST 2016


Photo Credit: Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals<http://www.weanimals.org/>

Preference Formation:A Non-Rationalistic & Non-Individualistic Approach
Frédéric Côté-Boudreau.

20 September, 2016.
RC Mills Building Room 148, The University of Sydney 1 - 2pm.

There are many theoretical obstacles that prevent marginalized groups, such as animals and persons with cognitive disabilities, from living the life they would like to lead. The main cause in these two cases has probably to do with the way philosophers typically define the concept of autonomy - in a highly rationalistic fashion. This tradition seems to me wrongheaded, as everyone is entitled to be free to choose her life and to not be dominated, regardless of one’s cognitive abilities.

But even once we grant that these individuals deserve the rights associated with autonomy, other issues persist. Is it enough to let them choose as they want or is intervention warranted in some cases, for instance when their choices are significantly harmful? And given that influences inescapably shape one's identity and preferences in any social settings, how can we ensure that their environment can foster their autonomy rather than force them into predetermined choices? In general, how do we deal with adaptive preferences with persons who are not only more vulnerable to manipulation, but also less apt to question their options?

By drawing from relational autonomy, disability studies, and citizenship theory of animals, I will argue that these issues can be addressed in non-rationalistic and non-individualistic terms in a way that is equally instructive for neurotypical human agents, for persons with cognitive disabilities, and for animals. This approach will emphasize that social support is often crucial for any group to acknowledge and overcome its oppression, and for this reason, that personal autonomy often relies on interpersonal contributions. But this social influence, as it can as much foster as undermine individual liberty, should also aim at helping individuals to make their own choices, by allowing them the opportunity to redefine their relationships and their environment to a certain extent, to opt out if necessary, as well as to gain the power to contest their set of options.

Frédéric Côté-Boudreau is a Ph.D. student in Philosophy at Queen's University, working under the supervision of Will Kymlicka. His interests cover issues at the intersection between political philosophy and animal ethics while his thesis focuses on the concept of autonomy. He is also active in the Québec animal justice movement and maintains a popular French-language blog at coteboudreau.com.

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