Epilogue: Autonomy as Privilege


Professor Flagg argues that taking privilege seriously, as Privilege Revealed urges us to do, leads to the conclusion that classical liberal autonomy simply does not exist, and therefore, no just legal system can be built upon that foundation.

Professor Flagg argues that that privilege often is exactly what the dictionary definition says it is: a special set of advantages not enjoyed by others. That is, it is an affirmative benefit and not only the absence of burdens and constraints. And if autonomy often requires subsidy—the work of others, in one form or another—then what remains of the notion of independence? In reality, for human beings there is no such thing; we are all interdependent. Exploration of privilege exposes the ways in which interdependence flows (justly and unjustly), and it obliterates the ideology of abstract autonomy. Such autonomy is privilege.



Barbara J. Flagg (Washington University School of Law)



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