Autonomy and orthonomy

Tom O'Shea*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The ideal of personal autonomy faces a challenge from advocates of orthonomy, who think good government should displace self-government. These critics claim that autonomy is an arbitrary kind of psychological harmony and that we should instead concentrate on ensuring our motivations and deliberations are responsive to reasons. This paper recasts these objections as part of an intramural debate between approaches to autonomy that accept or reject the requirement for robust rational capacities. It argues that autonomy depends upon such responsiveness to reasons, countering objections that 'externalist' rationalist criteria strip the self from self-government.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)619-637
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Moral Philosophy
Issue number5
Early online date10 Sep 2015
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2015


  • autonomy
  • John Christman
  • Michael Smith
  • orthonomy
  • Phillip Pettit
  • rationality


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