Digest of terms

autonomy

'self-rule', the capacity, or indeed e.g. in Kantian ethics and in liberalism, the responsibility and obligation incumbent on individuals to come to their own judgements and decisions regarding fundamental aspects of how, what and why they believe and do as they do, and freedom to act accordingly with minimal external interference. It is in sharp contrast to heteronomy, where views are externally determined, e.g. by parents, teachers, peer pressure, or institutional religion. Autonomy can be promoted and developed in an exclusively self-centred way, but that need not be: whilst valuing the importance of personal independence and encouraging people to think for themselves, any worldview is subject to the caution that this does not justify indifference to the needs and interests of others. In some religious thought it is argued that autonomy should be balanced by theonomy.

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