Human Authority And Autonomy Essay

925 Words 4 Pages
Human authority and autonomy is one issue that has been debated about for centuries. While some philosophers argue that state authority is all that there is, others state that human autonomy should be given more importance. In this paper, I will be discussing the arguments put forth by G.W.F Hegel and Robert Paul Wolff about human authority and autonomy and ultimately arguing that Robert Paul Wolff’s philosophy of human autonomy is better fit for society rather than G.W.F Hegel’s philosophy of the priority of state authority over the individuals.
To start, Hegel had strong views on the state’s authority over its people. Hegel states that a man is fully rational only when his life is within the state and if there is no state, then human reason
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As Wolff stated, what makes humans unique is our autonomy and our power of reason and that is something we should not give up under state’s authority. While Hegel states that the state should have legitimate authority over us in all ways possible, Wolff goes on to say that men have “to deny that [they have] a duty to obey the laws of the state simply because they are the laws”. We are responsible for our actions and this responsibility includes having a final say in all our decisions. If we were to listen and accept all the demands that the state puts forth then we lose the one thing that makes us special; our autonomy. While Hegel disregards human autonomy completely, Wolff acknowledges that even though we should follow our own decisions, it does not mean that we do not listen to the state. There are certain circumstances in which we should comply with laws for the time given because it would prove for the betterment of society. In these circumstances, these laws can be taken as “prudential self-interest and because of the obvious moral considerations concerning the value of order [and] the general good consequences of preserving a system of property”. Wolff’s beliefs are the most favourable for society because unlike Hegel, Wolff explains the importance of human autonomy but also respects the need to follow and adhere state laws when they are for the betterment of

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