We encounter autonomy in virtually every area of philosophy: in its relation with rationality, personality, self-identity, authenticity, freedom, moral values and motivations, and forms of government, legal, and social institutions. At the same time, the notion of autonomy has been the subject of significant criticism. Some argue that autonomy outweighs or even endangers interpersonal or collective values, while others believe it alienates subjects who don’t possess a strong form of autonomy. These marginalized subjects and communities include persons with physical or psychological disabilities, those in dire economic conditions, LGBTI persons, ethnic and religious minorities, and women in traditional communities or households.

This volume illuminates possible patterns in these criticisms of autonomy by bringing to light and critically assessing the contribution of women throughout the history of philosophy on this important subject. The essays in this collection cover a wide range of historical periods and influential female philosophers and thinkers, from medieval philosophy through to contemporary debates. Important authors whose work is considered, among many others, include Hildegard of Bingen, Margaret Cavendish, Anne Conway, Mary Wollstonecraft, Susan Moller Okin, Hélène Cixous, Iris Marion Young, and Judith Jarvis Thomson. Women Philosophers on Autonomy will enlighten and inform contemporary debates on autonomy by bringing into the conversation previously neglected female perspectives from throughout history.

chapter 1|8 pages


BySandrine Bergès, Alberto L. Siani

chapter 2|15 pages

Hildegard von Bingen on Autonomy

ByJulia Lerius

chapter 3|19 pages

Freedom’s Just Another Word for Nothin’ Left to Lose

Oliva Sabuco’s Philosophy and Life
ByMary Ellen Waithe

chapter 6|17 pages

Three Types of Infinite Autonomy

The Philosophy of Anne Conway
ByFiona Tomkinson

chapter 7|18 pages

Independence as Relational Freedom

A Republican Account Derived From Mary Wollstonecraft
ByAlan Coffee

chapter 9|18 pages

No Justice Without Autonomy! Olympe de Gouges and Susan Moller Okin

ByAlberto L. Siani

chapter 10|15 pages

Autonomy, Divinity, and the Common Good

Selflessness as a Source of Freedom in Thomas Hill Green and Mary Augusta Ward
ByPatrick Fessenbecker

chapter 11|15 pages


Derrida and Cixous
ByHatice Karaman

chapter 13|14 pages

“Living in Contradiction”

Iris Marion Young’s Contribution to the Philosophy of Sports
ByMartine Prange

chapter 14|18 pages

Autonomy, Emotional Vulnerability, and the Dynamics of Power 1

ByCarla Bagnoli