A self-determination theory account of self-authorship: Implications for law and public policy

Date

2017-04-04

Advisors

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

ISSN

0951-5089

Volume Title

Publisher

Taylor & Francis

Type

Article

Peer reviewed

Yes

Abstract

Self-authorship has been established as the basis of an influential liberal principle of legislation and public policy. Being the author of one’s own life is a significant component of one’s own well-being, and therefore is better understood from the viewpoint of the person whose life it is. However, most philosophical accounts, including Raz’s conception of self-authorship, rely on general and abstract principles rather than specific, individual psychological properties of the person whose life it is. We elaborate on the principles of self-authorship on the basis of self-determination theory, an empirically based psychological theory that has been at the forefront of the study of autonomy and self-authorship for more than 45 years. Our account transcends distinctions between positive and negative freedom and attempts to pinpoint the exact properties of self-authorship within the psychological processes of intrinsic motivation and internalization. If a primary objective of public policy is to support self-authorship, then it should be devised on the basis of how intrinsic motivation and internalization can be properly supported. Self-determination theory identifies three basic psychological needs: autonomy, competence, and relatedness. The satisfaction of these needs is associated with the support and growth of intrinsic tendencies and the advancement of well-being. Through this analysis, we can properly evaluate the significance of rationality, basic goods, and the availability of options to self-authorship. Implications for law and policy are discussed with an emphasis on legal paternalism and what many theorists call “liberal perfectionism,” that is, the non-coercive support and promotion of the good life.

Description

The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.

Keywords

Citation

Arvanitis, A. and Kalliris, K. (2017) A self-determination theory account of self-authorship: Implications for law and public policy, Philosophical Psychology, 30 (6), pp. 763-783

Rights

Research Institute

Centre for Law, Justice and Society