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Title: Claiming Independence: Essays on Law, Morality, and Equality
Authors: Bradley, J. Colin
Advisors: Pettit, Philip
Contributors: Philosophy Department
Subjects: Philosophy
Issue Date: 2024
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Independence is a status that consists in public recognition of a person’s entitlement to be the one who decides what happens with her body and her resources. The corollary of the entitlement to control one’s own body and resources is the entitlement not to be subject to the choices of others. This dissertation argues that independence provides an attractive framework to interpret the ideals of social equality, moral community, social cooperation, and the function of property and private law. The dissertation consists of four self-standing essays, divided into two Parts. Part One (Chapters 1-2) explores the place of independence in an account of morality as a social phenomenon. Chapter 1 argues that independence illuminates the sense in which morality is a social institution by developing a novel account of the connection between moral obligations and accountability practices. Moral facts may be intrinsically normative, but to possess bipolar normativity that authorizes accountability practices, moral standards must be organized by social norms and practices. Chapter 2 expands on this approach, arguing that independent people have an interest in making claims against one another that are treated as sources of content-independent, preemptive reasons for action. It introduces the idea of a normative order—a sufficiently rich set of norms, understood as behavioral regularities corresponding to internalized moral standards—as a necessary condition for reciprocal independence. Part Two (Chapters 3-4) draws on Kant in describing independence in the substantive terms of equal citizens of a cooperative economy. Chapter 3 offers a novel analysis of Kant’s Doctrine of Right and its core ideal of substantive independence, arguing that there is a close connection between substantive independence, equal participation in a productive economy, and property ownership. Chapter 4 connects these Kantian themes to the purposes of private law. It argues that private law should aim to uphold the independence of all those subject to it, and that this requires adjusting private rights, including property rights, to facilitate equal participation in the economy.
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Philosophy

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