Effective Expressions of Agency in a Broad Network of Relationships

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Jacobs, Emily




I argue that while Amartya Sen provides good reasons for focusing on the agency aspect of individuals, his account is too constrained. Sen describes agency in terms of individuals and their capacity for rationality and fails to account for the effect of a broad network of relationships. I turn to Sarah Clark Miller’s expanded account of agency to argue that the abilities of relationality and emotionality are also relevant for effective agency. I then argue that Miller’s focus on the moral duty to care means that her account is also too individualistic. I ground her account instead in the thoroughly relational nature of agents to show that her account must be coupled with a relational account of autonomy to be adequately sensitive to the effects of oppression on agents. I end by suggesting that oppressed agents can challenge social conditions that are not completely conducive to full autonomy through solidarity.




Carleton University

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