Autonomy and Social Interaction

By Joseph H. Kupfer

Subjects: Philosophy
Paperback : 9780791403464, 224 pages, August 1990
Hardcover : 9780791403457, 224 pages, August 1990

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Table of contents



1. Autonomy: Dimensions and Distinctions, Conditions and Constraints

2. Respect and Autonomy

3. Lying and Loss of Autonomy

4. Parents and Children, Obligation and Friendship

5. Privacy, Autonomy, and Self-Concept

6. Building Autonomous Places





This book makes a distinctive contribution to the growing discussion of autonomy. As the ability to determine one's life in both thought and action, autonomy is foundational among our many and varied values. Other philosophical treatments tend to emphasize the significance of autonomy for moral theory or institutional arrangements such as legal, political, or economic power structures. Kupfer, however, focuses on the context of social relations and interactions in which autonomous living occurs. He handles autonomy and social interaction reciprocally, so that the significance of each for the other is drawn out. In addition, key themes are threaded throughout, such as the nature of dependency, self-concept and self-knowledge, and authority.

Joseph H. Kupfer is Professor of Philosophy at Iowa State University. He is the author of Experience as Art: Aesthetics in Everyday Life, also published by SUNY Press.


"It is enjoyable and interesting to read. It deals with genuine moral issues in a philosophically sophisticated way that does not lose touch with ordinary human life. " — Edward Sankowski, University of Oklahoma

"It shows in very concrete terms the ways in which autonomy is the basis for the structure of certain relationships. The author does an excellent job of moving back and forth between discussions that are theoretical in nature and ones that focus on everyday, practical concerns. Not only is the role of autonomy in our lives revealed, but its value is shown both explicitly and implicitly. The writing is eminently readable — clear, not overly formal, and lively. This is the best sort of philosophy applied so as to illuminate everyday human affairs. " — Richard L. Lippke, James Madison University

"It's filled with unexpected insights and flashes of recognition. Kupfer's book was a unique experience for me. I have never read anything like it. " — Leslie Margolin, The University of Iowa