Self-Determination and Social Order

Author:Fabio Macioce
Pages:256-268
SUMMARY

In this essay I will try to demonstrate that the principle of self-determination is based on a formal and individualistic view of liberty rights. I also propose a different perspective that takes into account the relationships rather than the individual. I will show how this result can only be achieved through a different ascription of rights to individuals: in particular, I will try to... (see full summary)

 
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ANCILLAIURIS(anci.ch)2012:256Article 256
SelfdeterminationandSocialOrder
Summary
InthisessayIwilltrytodemonstratethattheprincipleofselfdeterminationisbasedonaformaland
individualisticviewoflibertyrights.Ialsoproposeadifferentperspectivethattakesintoaccountthe
relationshipsratherthantheindividual.Iwillshowhowthisresultcanonlybeachievedthrougha
differentascriptionofrightstoindividuals:inparticular,Iwilltrytodemonstrate1)thatanysocial
practicesexpressspecificvalues,2)thatthesevaluesaretheresultofhistoricalandculturalcircum
stances,3)thattheyaresubjecttoanongoingpublicdebate,andfinally4)thatonlyiftheindividual
praxisisconsistentwiththesevaluescanitleadtorecognitionofrights.
I. Introduction
Whatdowemeanwhenwesaythatapersonisfreetodosomething,suchaswhenwe
saythatsomeoneisfreetobelieveinacertainreligion,ortogotothecinemaortheater,orto
playthepiano?Infact,thesestatementscanmeaneitherthatapersonhastherighttoengage
himselfintheseorotheractivities,whetherthatheisactuallyabletodoso1.Inamoreaccu
ratewaywecansaythat,ifsomeoneisfreetoprofessareligion,itmeansthatnobody,not
eventheState,canstophim.Indeed,themoredevelopedthewelfarestateis,themoreitwill
havethedutytomakehimabletoimplementhischoices.
Inparticular,individualfreedomcanbeunderstoodinamerelyfactualperspective,as
absenceofconstraintsorimpediments,orinalegalperspective,asasubjectiveright;inthis
case,itbecomesawillguaranteedbylaw2.
Thisproblem,incontemporarysocieties,hasaparticularrelevance.Moreprecisely,the
problemofunderstandingwhatwemeanwhenwesaythatsomeonehasarighttodosome
thingcanalsobereformulatedasfollows:whataretheboundariesoftheprincipleofself
determination?
Iwilltrytoshowthatthisprinciple,oftenaccepteduncritically,ismorecomplexthan
onemightthink,andnotverycompatiblewiththerequirementsoforderandintegration
typicalofmodernsocieties.
Theprincipleofselfdeterminationis,fromatheoreticalpointofview,quitesimple:in
factitmeansthattheindividual,asapersonwhoownsafundamentalrightoffreedom,
mustbeabletodetermineallthechoicesthatdonotinvolvedamagetoothers,andthatthe
statecannotinterferewiththeexerciseofthatfreedom.Inotherwords,subjectivefreedom
impliesthattheindividualmustbeabletochoosehowandhowmuchtoexerciseit,unless
thislibertycausesharmtoothers,andthatthelawcanonlyrespectifweassumealiberal
anddemocraticperspectivethatautonomyofchoice.
1SeeA.Sen,M.Nussbaum(ed.),ThequalityofLife(Oxford1993and2004),3053.
2F.C .vonSavigny,SystemdesheutigenRömischenRechts(Aalen1981),Volu me1.Seeal soR.Dworkin,Tak
ingRightsSeriously(London1977),chapter1.
byFabioMacioce

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