Freedom Beyond SovereigntyReconstructing Liberal Individualism

Freedom Beyond SovereigntyReconstructing Liberal Individualism

Sharon R. Krause

Print publication date: 2015

ISBN: 9780226234694

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

Individual agency is an emergent property of intersubjective exchanges, not solely a function of faculties such as the will that are strictly internal to the individual. It eludes personal control and it regularly comes apart from conscious choices and intentions, for persons are commonly the agents of outcomes they did not foresee or wish to bring about. Consequently, the exercise of agency is a non-sovereign experience. The non-sovereign nature of human agency makes it vulnerable to social inequality in deep and constitutive ways. The failure to understand agency’s non-sovereign character generates enduring injustice and regular failures of freedom for those who are marginalized in the U.S. and other ostensibly free societies today. Yet despite being non-sovereign, agency can be surprisingly potent: Revolutions happen. Freedom Beyond Sovereignty explores the nature of human agency, including both its vitality and its vulnerabilities. The book identifies emancipatory sources of agency under conditions of domination and oppression, and it suggests a new, pluralist way to understand political freedom. Non-sovereign freedom should be conceived in a plural way because it takes diverse forms, happens in many different places, and aims at a variety of ends. The book reconstructs liberal individualism in fundamental ways. It offers new categories for conceiving human action, personal responsibility, and the meaning of liberty. It brings experiences of the marginalized to the center of political theory and the study of freedom, with a focus on race, gender, and sexual orientation, and it helps point the way to a future that finally achieves freedom for all.