Relational autonomy

Catriona Mackenzie*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter offers an account of central issues and themes in feminist philosophical reflections on relational autonomy. Relational theories of autonomy explicate the social dimensions of personal autonomy, as well as the ways its development and exercise can be impaired by social oppression. The chapter outlines debates between internalist and externalist, and procedural and substantive theories of relational autonomy, including discussion of important contributions to these debates over the last two decades. It proposes that a multidimensional analysis of autonomy offers a possible resolution to these debates. Specifically, the chapter argues for the importance of distinguishing self-determination, self-governance, and self-authorization as distinct although causally interacting dimensions of relational autonomy. The advantage of a multidimensional analysis of autonomy is that it does justice to the complexity of the concept, while also clarifying the multifarious ways in which social oppression can impair autonomy.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford handbook of feminist philosophy
EditorsKim Q. Hall, Ásta
Place of PublicationNew York, NY
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9780190628949
ISBN (Print)9780190628925
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Autonomy
  • Externalist autonomy
  • Internalist autonomy
  • Multidimensional autonomy
  • Relational autonomy
  • Social oppression


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