Responding to the agency dilemma: Autonomy, adaptive preferences, and internalized oppression

Catriona Mackenzie*

*Corresponding author for this work

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

26 Citations (Scopus)


Feminist efforts to theorize the impact of social oppression on autonomy must negotiate what Serene Khader (2011) refers to as the “agency dilemma.” This is the challenge of recognizing and analyzing the vulnerabilities of persons subject to social oppression or deprivation while also acknowledging and respecting their agency. In particular, since the effects of social oppression can run deep and can shape people’s practical identities or self-concepts, responding to the challenge posed by the agency dilemma requires explaining how social oppression can be simultaneously identity constituting yet identity fracturing and agency constituting yet autonomy impairing-at least in certain domains or with respect to certain aspects of agents’ practical identities.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPersonal autonomy and social oppression
Subtitle of host publicationphilosophical perspectives
EditorsMarina A. L. Oshana
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor and Francis Group
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781135036096, 9780203768778, 9781135036102
ISBN (Print)9780415840132
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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