Promoting autonomy of oneself and others


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             Autonomy is the ability to have the capacity for self-governance or have self- determination. This is a concept which comes out through various arenas. For example, the moral autonomy is usually governed by the moral laws ( Deci, 2010). Therefore, personal autonomy can be said to be the capacity of a person to pursue actions based on moral content. This paper will compare the philosophical work by Nietzsche and MacIntyre and determine who offers the best tool of promoting autonomy.

Over the past centuries, the teachings of Friedrich Nietzsche have transformed and penetrated every realm of social culture in the Western world. In his essays, he examines the significance of people’s ability to make promises. He states that to hold to the promises made requires both confidence about the future and very powerful memory that will ensure that certain issues are not forgotten. According to Nietzsche confidence requires one to be predictable or calculable and, therefore, he or she must share common sets of customs and laws that govern his or her behaviour (Risse, 2001).

The society and morality play an important part of making a person predictable, therefore, giving the person ability to make promises. This process according to Nietzsche is complicated as it ends up in the ‘sovereign person’ who can make decisions, not only because the person in question is bounded by social mores but because he or she is the master of his or her own free will. The sovereign of an individual is characterised by tremendous responsibilities of one being free to make claims in regard to his or her future. This sense of responsibility according to Nietzsche is called conscience (Risse, 2001).

Nietzsche defines the concept of ‘bad conscience and guiltiness using German words for ‘debt’ and ‘guilt.’ He suggested that, originally, there were no relationship between guilt and accountability or immorality. Punishments were meted on the basis of reprisal and not on the basis of guilt. If a person failed to honour promises, then they were considered to be in debt the person they failed. The debt could then be balanced by punishing or torturing the person. This happened to a person say the creditor who had no interest of getting his money back from the debtor. Thus, the memory of making promises during this time was burdened and the punishments and cruelty ensured that the debtor does not forget his promises next time (Risse, 2001).

Macintyre’s in his book, ‘After Virtue (1981)’ explains his long ethical project. The book diagnoses the rising issues in the society such as ‘culture of emotivism’ where the moral language pragmatically manipulates decisions, attitude and decision. According to the book, those moral cultures are said to be a theatre of illusion where the objectives of moral rhetoric masks the decisions. The books examine the part of the community in making the judgments about the truth or falsity. The work by MacIntyre also examines the reasons why human beings need virtues through investigating the social debts and needs of human agents and the part which they were playing in the formation of an independent practical person who can reason (Borden, 2007).

The philosophy by Maclntyre’s is very important especially to the fields of communitarian politics and the virtues of ethics. He points out the insignificance of conventional business ethic as an application of the modern moral concepts in decision making. His work in philosophy has lead tremendous renewal of values over the last decades. For example, in his works his discusses the moral condemnation of Stalinism. His presentation of this concept draws two important conclusions related to morality, one is the fact of the people’s solidarity in discovering what people want in their moral life (Borden, 2007).. According to MacIntyre morality organises life of the community. As he concludes his book, he says that the concepts of morality are neither historical nor timeless and, therefore, the understanding the developments of historical, ethical concepts can liberate people from any falsity claims (Borden, 2007).

MacIntyre’s Aristotelian offers the best tool of promoting autonomy of one self and others compared to Nietzsche because he examines the habits that humans should develop in order to make judgement and act efficiently in the pursuit of the true choices which have a worthy end. His examination has a very rich account on the deliberate activities by human that encompass moral formation and society life. He also accounts why humans have practical wisdom to do what is right based on the freedom of morality.


Borden, S. L. (2007). Journalism as practice: MacIntyre, virtue ethics and the press. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2010). The support of autonomy and the control of behavior. Journal of personality and social psychology, 53(6), 1024.Risse, M. (2001). The Second Treatise in In the Genealogy of Morality: Nietzsche on the Origin of the Bad Conscience. European Journal of Philosophy, 9(1), 55-81.

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