Pluralism and Universalism

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Can individual liberty conceived as personal autonomy be upheld as a political ideal of universal application? The classic answer in the affirmative is given by John Stuart Mill in On Liberty, where he argues for ‘individuality’, the capacity to make one’s own plan of life through a process of critical reflection, as a central component of human well-being and a salient standard for public policy. Personal autonomy in this sense is valuable, for Mill, both as a means to social progress and as an end in itself. Progress follows from the energy and experiments in living generated by strongly self-directing individuals who are prepared to question and depart from prevailing norms and practices. Personal autonomy is also valuable in itself as one of the distinctive marks of humanity: ‘it is the privilege and proper condition of a human being, arrived at the maturity of his faculties, to use and interpret experience in his own way’ (Mill 1974, 122). Following Mill, many modern liberals, although not all, have made personal autonomy central to their conception of the human good, and have argued that the protection and promotion of autonomy is the overriding purpose of the liberal state (Raz 1986; Kymlicka 1995).

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIslam Beyond Conflict
Subtitle of host publicationIndonesian Islam and Western Political Theory
EditorsAzyumardi Azra, Wayne Hudson
PublisherAshgate Publishing
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781351926034, 9781315251769
ISBN (Print)9780754670926
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Bibliographical note

eBook version published by Taylor & Francis in 2016.


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