Wednesday, December 26, 2012

What is Sarah Conly reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Sarah Conly, author of Against Autonomy: Justifying Coercive Paternalism.

Her entry begins:
David Hume, The History of England, Volume V, LibertyClassics, (based on the 1778 edition.)

Want to see a vivid display of flawed personalities locked in a bitter struggle for political power? Want to see one where at the end of the book the leader of the losing party gets his head chopped off? I’m reading David Hume’s history of the English Civil War, the one where the Royalists and the Roundheads go at it, where Charles I is ignominiously beheaded. This is Volume V of Hume’s History of England, and no, I did not first read the preceding four volumes. But this is a lively, action-filled book, replete with descriptions that would make a contemporary columnist green with...[read on]
About the book, from the publisher:
Since Mill's seminal work On Liberty, philosophers and political theorists have accepted that we should respect the decisions of individual agents when those decisions affect no one other than themselves. Indeed, to respect autonomy is often understood to be the chief way to bear witness to the intrinsic value of persons. In this book, Sarah Conly rejects the idea of autonomy as inviolable. Drawing on sources from behavioural economics and social psychology, she argues that we are so often irrational in making our decisions that our autonomous choices often undercut the achievement of our own goals. Thus in many cases it would advance our goals more effectively if government were to prevent us from acting in accordance with our decisions. Her argument challenges widely held views of moral agency, democratic values and the public/private distinction, and will interest readers in ethics, political philosophy, political theory and philosophy of law.
Read an excerpt from Against Autonomy, and learn more about the book at the Cambridge University Press website.

Sarah Conly is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Bowdoin College.

The Page 99 Test: Against Autonomy.

Writers Read: Sarah Conly.

--Marshal Zeringue