Upcoming Webinar: The Problem of Autonomy

Part of the Critical Realism Network Webinar Series, the upcoming webinar is hosted by Professor Philip Gorski (Department of Sociology, Yale University) and Timothy Rutzou (Post-Doctoral Associate, Yale University) and addresses The Problem of Autonomy.

Wednesday, May 17th, 12:00-1:30 pm EST. Click here to register.

Brief Description: At the recent Values and Human Flourishing conference, a single issue continually emerged: how should we understand autonomy, and what place does it serve within ethical and political projects? Questions about autonomy, social solidarity, human dependency, and interdependency in many ways serve as the bridge between empirical research, social theory, ethics, and politics. Like the topic of structure and agency, the complex relationship between autonomy, dependency, and interdependency is a key problematic of social philosophy and sociology. The long tradition of Aristotle, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, David Hume, Immanuel Kant, G.W.F. Hegel, Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, and Max Weber were all concerned with unpacking this problematic, often without shying away from addressing its moral, ethical, and political implications. Our modern understanding of autonomy is animated by this intellectual history and the many antimonies this tradition has generated.

How might critical realism help us to address or contribute to this contested history? The answer is not clear. In this webinar Gorski and Rutzou will discuss the manner in which critical realism might be able to help us navigate this problematic by providing an ontologically stratified view of self and society, and a complex account of causation. Where Gorski argues for a more Durkheimian turn, Rutzou argues for a more poststructuralist turn. Are such accounts compatible? Incompatible? Does the ontology advocated by critical realism necessarily entail certain ethical and political positions? Do certain positions become incoherent when one adopts a critical realist ontology? Or is critical realism morally, ethically, and politically promiscuous? The webinar will explore these issues.