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The Politics of Persons
Individual Autonomy and Socio-historical Selves


  • Date Published: September 2009
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521760560

£ 67.00

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About the Authors
  • It is both an ideal and an assumption of traditional conceptions of justice for liberal democracies that citizens are autonomous, self-governing persons. Yet standard accounts of the self and of self-government at work in such theories are hotly disputed and often roundly criticized in most of their guises. John Christman offers a sustained critical analysis of both the idea of the 'self' and of autonomy as these ideas function in political theory, offering interpretations of these ideas which avoid such disputes and withstand such criticisms. Christman's model of individual autonomy takes into account the socially constructed nature of persons and their complex cultural and social identities, and he shows how this model can provide a foundation for principles of justice for complex democracies marked by radical difference among citizens. His book will interest a wide range of readers in philosophy, politics, and the social sciences.

    • Develops an analysis of individual autonomy to appeal to a general scholarly audience
    • Written in an accessible manner
    • Demonstrates how autonomy can connect with a complex flexible conception of the self, providing a different perspective on this issue than what is normally contained within the literature
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    Reviews & endorsements

    Review of the hardback: 'The Politics of Persons is a rich and provocative work that makes a significant contribution both to autonomy theory and to political philosophy. Lively and erudite, it is a landmark work that is the most comprehensive treatment to date of how these two fields can, and should, interrelate. It should thus be read by all interested in either political philosophy or autonomy theory, and is absolutely essential reading for anyone interested in both.' James Stacey Taylor, The College of New Jersey

    Review of the hardback: 'John Christman's work is at the forefront of contemporary debates about the social and political dimensions of individual autonomy. In The Politics of Persons he extends his influential historical analysis of individual autonomy in two important ways: first, by grounding this analysis in a social and historical model of the political self; and second by defending an autonomy-based conception of justice and democracy. The Politics of Persons is an ambitious and significant contribution to the theory of autonomy.' Catriona Mackenzie, Macquarie University

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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2009
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521760560
    • length: 286 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 21 mm
    • weight: 0.59kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    Part I. Selves:
    2. The social conception of the self: a critical taxonomy
    3. The post-modern subject
    4. The narrative self
    5. Memory, agency, and the self
    Part II. Autonomy:
    6. Political persons
    7. The historical conception of autonomy
    8. Relational autonomy
    9. The dynamics of social identities
    Part III. Justice:
    10. Justice over time: history, public reason, and political legitimacy

  • Author

    John Christman, Pennsylvania State University

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