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Autonomy, Respect, and Arrogance in the Danish Cartoon Controversy

Christian F. Rostbøll
Political Theory
Vol. 37, No. 5 (October 2009), pp. 623-648
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25655507
Page Count: 26
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Autonomy, Respect, and Arrogance in the Danish Cartoon Controversy
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Abstract

Autonomy is increasingly rejected as a fundamental principle by liberal political theorists because it is regarded as incompatible with respect for diversity. This article seeks, via an analysis of the Danish cartoon controversy, to show that the relationship between autonomy and diversity is more complex than often posited. Particularly, it asks whether the autonomy defense of freedom of expression encourages disrespect for religious feelings. Autonomy leads to disrespect for diversity only when it is understood as a character ideal that must be promoted as an end in itself. If it by contrast is understood as something we should presume everyone possesses, it provides a strong basis for equal respect among people from diverse cultures. A Kantian conception of autonomy can justify the right to freedom of expression while it at the same time requires that we in the exercise of freedom of expression show respect for others as equals.

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