Autonomy Education Beyond Borders


  • Danielle Zwarthoed



This article examines whether autonomy as an educational aim should be defended at the global scale. It begins by identifying the normative issues at stake in global autonomy education by distinguishing them from the problems of autonomy education in multicultural nation-states. The article then explains why a planet-wide expansion of the ideal of autonomy is conceivable on the condition that the concept of autonomy is widened in a way that renders its precise meaning flexibly adjustable to a variety of distinct social and cultural contexts. A context-transcendent, core meaning of autonomy remains in place, however, according to which a person is only autonomous if she relates to the values and goals that direct her life in a way so that she sees them as her own and is able to identify and critically assess her principal reasons for action. Finally, the article addresses two challenges to the global expansion of autonomy education: the objection that autonomy is presently not the most important educational aim and the objection that global autonomy education is a form of cultural imperialism. It finds both objections wanting.