Saturday, September 8, 2018

I'm selling a like new DJI Phantom 4 4K Standard

 It has less than 3 hours flight time, extra battery, all the bells and whistles $650 OBO

 I'll get it up in the air and fool around at some point, boys and their toys.

20 of America's top political scientists gathered to discuss our democracy. They're scared.

Is American democracy in decline? Should we be worried?
On October 6, some of America’s top political scientists gathered at Yale University to answer these questions. And nearly everyone agreed: American democracy is eroding on multiple fronts — socially, culturally, and economically.
The scholars pointed to breakdowns in social cohesion (meaning citizens are more fragmented than ever), the rise of tribalism, the erosion of democratic norms such as a commitment to rule of law, and a loss of faith in the electoral and economic systems as clear signs of democratic erosion.
No one believed the end is nigh, or that it’s too late to solve America’s many problems. Scholars said that America’s institutions are where democracy has proven most resilient. So far at least, our system of checks and balances is working — the courts are checking the executive branch, the press remains free and vibrant, and Congress is (mostly) fulfilling its role as an equal branch.
But there was a sense that the alarm bells are ringing.
Yascha Mounk, a lecturer in government at Harvard University, summed it up well: “If current trends continue for another 20 or 30 years, democracy will be toast.”

“Democracies don’t fall apart — they’re taken apart”

Nancy Bermeo, a politics professor at Princeton and Harvard, began her talk with a jarring reminder: Democracies don’t merely collapse, as that “implies a process devoid of will.” Democracies die because of deliberate decisions made by human beings.
Usually, it’s because the people in power take democratic institutions for granted. They become disconnected from the citizenry. They develop interests separate and apart from the voters. They push policies that benefit themselves and harm the broader population. Do that long enough, Bermeo says, and you’ll cultivate an angry, divided society that pulls apart at the seams.
So how might this look in America?
Adam Przeworski, a democratic theorist at New York University, suggested that democratic erosion in America begins with a breakdown in what he calls the “class compromise.” His point is that democracies thrive so long as people believe they can improve their lot in life. This basic belief has been “an essential ingredient of Western civilization during the past 200 years,” he said.
But fewer and fewer Americans believe this is true. Due to wage stagnation, growing inequalities, automation, and a shrinking labor market, millions of Americans are deeply pessimistic about the future: 64 percent of people in Europe believe their children will be worse off than they were; the number is 60 percent in America.
That pessimism is grounded in economic reality. In 1970, 90 percent of 30-year-olds in America were better off than their parents at the same age. In 2010, only 50 percent were. Numbers like this cause people to lose faith in the system. What you get is a spike in extremism and a retreat from the political center. That leads to declines in voter turnout and, consequently, more opportunities for fringe parties and candidates.
Political polarization is an obvious problem, but researchers like Przeworski suggest something more profound is going on. Political theorists like to talk about the “social compact,” which is basically an implicit agreement among members of society to participate in a system that benefits everyone.
Well, that only works if the system actually delivers on its promises. If it fails to do so, if it leads enough people to conclude that the alternative is less scary than the status quo, the system will implode from within.
Is that happening here? Neither Przeworski nor anyone else went quite that far. But we know there’s a growing disconnect between productivity (how hard people work) and compensation (how much they’re paid for that work). At the same time, we’ve seen a spike in racial animus, particularly on the right. It seems likely there’s a connection here.
Przeworski believes that American democracy isn’t collapsing so much as deteriorating. “Our divisions are not merely political but have deep roots in society,” he argues. The system has become too rigged and too unfair, and most people have no real faith in it.
Where does that leave us? Nowhere good, Przeworski says. The best he could say is that “our current crisis will continue for the foreseeable future.”

“The soft guardrails of democracy” are eroding

We’ve heard a lot of chatter recently about the importance of democratic norms. These are the unwritten rules and the conventions that undergird a democracy — things like commitment to rule of law, to a free press, to the separation of powers, to the basic liberties of speech, assembly, religion, and property.
Daniel Ziblatt, a politics professor at Harvard, called these norms “the soft guardrails of democracy.” Dying democracies, he argued, are always preceded by the breaking of these unwritten rules.
Research conducted by Bright Line Watch, the group that organized the Yale conference, shows that Americans are not as committed to these norms as you might expect.
It’s not that Americans don’t believe in democratic ideals or principles; it’s that our beliefs scale with our partisan loyalties. Vox’s Ezra Klein explained it well in a recent column:

Thank you mom for teaching me to need anyone

 Before you passed away I thought you were just being harsh but that wasn't the case now was it? Thanks.
You don't need to rest in peace love, dance, party, get laid or whatever turns you on in the next life.
You are free from all the BS, Enjoy!

If you accept my advice you'll never have to ask anyone for any information

. Purchase yourself a craptop, phones are not substitutes for craptops or desktops.
Set it up and download Google Browser. Take the methods of searching that I have provided you on "Sys Nica". And in 6 months time you'll be able to unlock the answers to all practical questions and gain a more fulfilling experience of autonomy.

 You can get rollback craptops for less than $150 and don't worry about speed and storage capacity, simply focus on the basics and searching.

8 Types of Blogs and Bloggers. What Type is Yours?

In the blogging world, there are different kinds of blogs and bloggers who blog to reach specific goals. If you decided to become a blogger, but you’re not sure what your blog is going to tackle, then identifying the type of blogger you want to become can help. In this post, we’re going to look at types of blogs and bloggers that exist and how each strives to become successful in the blogging world.

1. Personal Blogs

When blogging began in the late 90’s, the first type of blogger appeared was the online diary bloggers. These were people who wanted to take their daily journal online to share their experiences, feelings, and innermost thoughts with an audience. For the personal blogger, there were no rules to follow or themes to adhere. Their blogs were the open pages of their diaries, entered through a word processor and published on simple HTML pages.

Personal bloggers today tend to follow the same trajectory, although they no longer have to fight the barrier to entry of setting up a website. They can use Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr, and similar networks to start a blog in less than fifteen minutes and start sharing their brilliance with the world.

So what does a personal blogger write about? Everything. Some will focus on a particular interest, such as a hobby. Some will focus on something they are passionate about, like politics. Some will focus on a cause, like their struggle with cancer. Some will focus on whatever is on their mind at the time they start a new blog post.

Successful personal blog
The success for a personal blogger is finding others to share their writing. The best way to build a community for a personal blog is to find other personal bloggers who share the same interest. One you have found them, start commenting on their blogs and connecting with them on social media. As you grow your interactions with other personal bloggers, they will begin to engage with your blog posts.

Examples of good personal blogs:

Gregory Ciotti writes about clear communication, collaboration, and creative work.
Phil Galfond a pro poker who shares his experience through articles and videos.
Recommended Reading:
Start Blog Book
How to Start a Blog 
Step-by-Step Guide
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2. Business Blogs

Business bloggers are those who blog for their business. That could be a business they own or company they work for. The business blogger’s goal is to gain more exposure, traffic, and ultimately customers for their business. Unlike the personal blogger, their writing is less focused on themselves and more focused on their business and their industry.

A business blogger will write about the topics that will attract their ideal customers. For example, employees of a printing company will write blog content that is aimed towards other business owners who are in the market for business cards, flyers, brochures, and other printing services. The blog posts will cover topics like “How to Design a Great Business Card,” ‘Typography 101,” and “Creating a Brochure That Boosts Your Business.”

Successful business blog
The success for a business blogger is to attract readers that will ultimately subscribe to their email list, submit a lead form, or make a purchase. The best way to build a community for a business blog is to identify people who are most likely to become customers of your business and create content that they would find interesting. Then make sure each piece of content leads these people to want to learn more about your products and services.

Examples of good business blogs:

HelpScout blog with everything you need to know about customer loyalty.
HubSpot blog provides information about inbound marketing and sales.
3. Professional Blogs

Professional bloggers are those who blog to make money online. In other words, their career goal is to earn a salary through their blogging efforts. Professional bloggers tend to use a variety of monetization strategies to achieve this goal, including selling display ads, creating information and digital products, promoting other people’s products for a commission, and similar.

Professional bloggers tend to either focus on one blog or many niche blogs to generate revenue. Each blog would need to have the potential for attracting a large audience, producing lots of traffic, and being a good fit for advertisers and product sales.

Successful professional blog
The success for a professional blogger depends on their monetization goals. Those who wish to make money through advertising will need a lot of traffic from an audience interested in a particular topic. For example, a popular personal finance blog would likely attract an audience that advertisers from retirement savings companies, banks, and similar businesses would want to get in front. In addition to advertising, the personal finance blogger could also monetize by creating their course on personal finance or become an affiliate for others who have courses on personal finance.

Examples of good pro blogs:

4-Hour Workweek and Lifestyle Design Blog from Tim Ferriss.
I Will Teach You to be Rich blog from Ramit Sethi.
4. Niche blogs

Instead of merely focusing on broad topics, niche blogs are very specific! Some of the niche blog ideas might be food blogging, training programs with your own weight, poems writing, as well as French bulldog lovers. Yes, it can be that specific!

With niche blog, you can focus more on a particular topic thus making research rather easy. It’s easier to identify strengths and weaknesses of that niche and write about things you know the best. You can also use that blog and change your passion into a small personal business.

Successful niche blog
It’s important to pick the topic that appeals to you and the one you are passionate about. Aspire for success, happiness, security, and recognition. By choosing your niche of interest and having your point of view you’ll be able to position and differentiate your blog from the competition. On the other hand, it’s also important to identify the size of the niche. Even if you believe you have a brilliant blog idea, it would be challenging to succeed unless your niche market attracts enough people. You don’t want your niche to be too small or too big.

Examples of good niche blogs:

Freshome blog with the latest news on design and architecture.
Jamie Oliver’s blog with interesting food recipes and cooking ideas.
5. Reverse blogs

Reverse or guest host blogs are a unique but modern type of blog. Instead of the owner creating content, the content is supplied by the public. A reverse blog has a team who moderate posts, prevent unpleasant interactions and promote slow topics for greater interactivity. Despite the fact that the guest host blog mostly contains content from guest writers, the owner should also write posts of his or her own. Keep in mind that different types of bloggers share different ideas when it comes to blogging.

In fact, any blogger should look for blogs in their field where he or she can become a guest blogger. It would help you attracts visitors to your blog, and some online readers of the host blog can become your followers.

Successful reverse blog
The trick here would be how do you attract different writers who already have a reputation online and in most cases, they would help you promote your blog by sharing pieces of content that they’ve posted with their audiences, usually on social media. From your end, you will have to have a good moderation plan in place so that you can display content from the guests daily.

Example of a good reverse blog:

Medium is a quirky reverse blog with a growing following.
6. Affiliate Blogs

Affiliate bloggers are those that blog to generate affiliate marketing commissions. Instead of creating their own products, they write blog posts that review products by others. The goal is to encourage visitors to purchase those products using the blogger’s affiliate link, allowing the blogger to earn a commission as specified by the product creator.

An affiliate blogger typically writes review posts on affiliate products. Some will write many reviews on one website, while others will create websites dedicated to promoting one particular affiliate product. SEO is an important part of the process, as an affiliate blogger needs their reviews to rank first in search results.

Successful affiliate blog
Success for an affiliate blogger is ensuring that their affiliate product reviews read by those who are likely to purchase those products. They also work towards building an extensive mailing list to promote affiliate product launches with dedicated subscribers. Some affiliate marketers will tell you that their email list is the primary source of their revenue.

Examples of successful affiliate blogs:

Shoemoney blog by Jeremy Shoemaker.
JohnChow blog by John Chow.
7. Media blogs

Media blogs are defined by the content they produce. If you enjoy video blogging, then you’re a vlogger. If you curate content from other websites, you have a linklog. If you post photos or art sketches on your blog, you’re hosting a photoblog or art blog.

This type of blog is popular among people of different fields. The younger crowd is recording their video gameplay and sharing it with people interested in that game. Photographers can share tons of pictures they took on the last trip. People that running podcast can post audio files of the last episode recorded.

Successful media blog
One of the important factors here would be choosing the blogging platform that would suit your needs. And maybe finding the web hosting provider that would allow you to store bigger size files without charging you a fortune.

Examples of successful media blogs:

PostSecret blog where people mail in their secrets anonymously on a postcard.
Pointless blog is a fun example of vlog that run on Youtube.
Photoblog is a platform where you could create a free photography blog.
8. Freelance bloggers
Freelance bloggers are those who are paid for providing services, for example writing content for other businesses. If you are looking for a way to get paid for writing as a service and have experience in blogging, freelance blogging is the way to go.

Freelance bloggers cover topics provided by their clients. Some market themselves as experts in a particular industry or niche, while others market themselves as general writers who can cover anything with a bit of research. Experts within a particular industry or niche tend to be able to charge more than general writers.

Successful freelance blogger
Success for a freelance blogger is to build a portfolio that makes them attractive to entrepreneurs and businesses who need quality content written for their company blog. With exception to ghostwriters, freelance bloggers can use their work for other clients as a springboard to gain new customers. As they become more in demand, freelance bloggers can get bigger contracts and earn a living as a freelancer.

Examples of successful freelance bloggers:

Jean runs Catswhocode blog and offers web development services.
Pam Neely runs her blog and offers content writing services.
Now that you know what types of blogs there are in the blogging world, which type do you want to become? How do you plan to monetize your blogging type? Please share in the comments!

I never liked Facebook

 I inherited my Facebook account from my long ago "X" 3 years ago. (She was out of the picture for at least 7 years previous)

 I was living in Puerto Rico and became a bit weak/lonely so began to search for old friends. There's a reason why old friends are old friends and it may be best to leave it the way it is.
 In the beginning I told jokes and chatted but it quickly morphed into something detrimental to me. People were going to "tell" me how I should guide my life.

 I was born a grown man with no childhood that I can recall. I tried creating new profiles yadda yadda but that didn't work so this is how I ended my relationship with my "acquaintances" on FB.

 I believe I failed "Subtelty 101" at Buffalo State.

"Your Path" Broken Down & Quantified

 I often write of "you/my path"

 This is too simple!

 You were Created in a specific time and space that no other occupied. You will be delivered to your destiny/ time and space that no other shall occupy.
The journey between your Alph and Omega is "your" path. No one can assist you with "your"path as "no one" can decipher your Origin, Means or Destination.

 Only a complete fool attempts to assist you along "your" path that he/she has no clue of which end is which.

I doubt that anyone outside the philosophical community will get this

 ***There are but two sides to Anything!

 There is but my side and my way and there is the individuals of the world's side and their way. (The observant will readily see my over generalization while also getting the point)

Challenge Your Status Quo *the Enemies That We All Need

This simple sentence published by Ali Davies in Google+ stuck with me.
“Being willing to challenge your own status quo is an essential part of getting on the path to creating change.”
A very true statement and a very challenging one, too. Personal change can only happen if a person wants to change. Leaders can only facilitate change if they first start with themselves. It takes personal motivation and a lot more.

Change fails often.

Change becomes a fad. A moment embraced quickly and fades just as fast.
Change becomes like a new piece of clothing. It looks sharp at first glance but then gets pushed to the back of the closet.
We see the data. It shows trends going in the wrong direction, ratios out of sync, and surveys with bad results.
We stare at change. It is an icy stare. We can see it, feel it, but cannot make it happen. The reality is we are entranced with the status quo.
We get caught up in daily routines. We get stuck and keep stuck.
Change feels uncomfortable. We like being comfortable.
Change seems to belong to someone else. We like to point fingers.
Real change can happen if we move to the levels where we really need to go.

Change succeeds when embraced more deeply.

Change takes hold more successfully if done from an emotional, social, and spiritual level. True change takes a deeper look and true engagement at each of these three levels.

Emotional. Feelings play an important role in change. Our emotions can hold us in a status quo state. Even though we may be in an unhappy emotional condition, other emotions may hold a stronger grip on us. Fear is one. Comfort is another. Our disposition to our various emotional states play a role in whether or not we discard the status quo and move in a new, better direction.
A few key questions to answer may be helpful:
  1. Which emotions do we hold to a higher value? Do these emotions enable change or prevent it?
  2. What is our emotional commitment to our current ways?
  3. What emotion is driving us to change? Or, what emotion do we need as a driver to achieve the required change?
We need to be emotionally committed to the desired change. It takes self-control. It takes getting our emotions in the right priority order. We need to tap into the right emotion that is going to enable us to change.
Social. Our social community plays key parts in our duel between the status quo and change. Friends, family, and co-workers participate. Some, for whatever reason, may hold us back. It could be intentional or unintentional. In many ways, it doesn’t matter. We need to ask ourselves whether or not our social interactions and relationships are really helping us or not.
For me, this really boils down to two key questions that I have highlighted in previous posts:
  1. Do the people around you make you a better person?
  2. Do you make those around you better?
A mutually-beneficial relationship is the best kind. At times, it may be more challenging to support someone in the change they need to make. It could be due to a change in our relationship with them or just a tough, but needed, change to make.
We need to ensure we have supportive, challenging (for the right reasons), and mutually beneficial relationships in place. Strong relationships challenge. Strong relationships care. Strong relationships make us better and interrupt the status quo when required.
Are people holding us back or down or enabling us to move up and forward? We need the latter to engage meaningful, worthwhile change.
Spiritual.  Our core beliefs matter. Our life philosophy matters. How we approach change depends on how we view continuous learning, improving ourselves, serving in our community, and other values. In many ways, it depends on how we view our humanness. Do we view it as a static state? Or, do we view it as evolving and growing?
It is not forgoing key principles. It is ensuring we have defined our values, principles, and philosophies to drive our live in a purposeful way.
The key questions to answer in the spiritual dimension may be:
  1. What do we really hold dear and close to how we live and lead our life? What are our life and leadership drivers?
  2. Are our core beliefs and values aligned with the change desired?
  3. What values are tripping us up from moving forward in new, better directions? What values do we need to embrace to lead and live in a balanced change-purpose way?
We need to spend the time as early in our life as possible to explore our spiritual side and determine our core empowering beliefs and philosophies. It prepares the foundation for a life well-lived and a leadership model well-formulated.

Challenge your status quo.

“Challenge your status quo” is the statement that sparked this. As I thought more about it, it dawned on me that we need to go deeper to do this in a proper and real progress-oriented way.
The new reality, I believe, is this:  Change can only happen from within and enabled through the right social and emotional conditions. We stare at our status quo, and we freeze. It is a stalemate, unless we go deeper and understand what we need in our living and leading capabilities to change and proceed in good, purposeful directions.
Author: Jon Mertz

Follow Up to My Last Post

 *All you churchgoers, church leaders, presidents *including you Obama, law-abiding citizens and pillars of your community, I wouldn't piss on your heads if they caught fire!

 With the American Indian population decimated, you continue the lie that Chris Scumnutts Discovered America.

My Mental Midget President and His FollowersTalk Mierda

Do Indians Rightfully Own America?

Critics of libertarianism occasionally claim that, if libertarians are correct, the entirety of America rightfully belongs to the Indians.  After all, we stole it from them, didn’t we?
Unfortunately, the preceding question is missing a lot of scare quotes.  Yes, “we” stole it from “them.”  (And much much worse).  But both the “we” and the “them” have been dead for centuries.  Many of “us” aren’t even descended from either side.  In any case, the last time I checked, both libertarians and virtually all of our modern critics reject the doctrine of inherited guilt.  So barring abundant scare quotes, we stole nothing from them.
But what about the Locke/Nozick historical theory of justice?  Isn’t anyone who fails to return stolen property to the Indians violating their property rights?  While I’m not a big fan of Murray Rothbard’s The Ethics of Liberty, he has a methodical and plausible response to all questions of this form.  I almost never post lengthy blockquotes, but here I’ll make an exception:
It is true that existing property titles must be scrutinized, but the resolution of the problem is much simpler than the question assumes. For remember always the basic principle: that all resources, all goods, in a state of no-ownership belong properly to the first person who finds and transforms them into a useful good (the “homestead” principle). We have seen this above in the case of unused land and natural resources: the first to find and mix his labor with them, to possess and use them, “produces” them and becomes their legitimate property owner. Now suppose that Mr. Jones has a watch; if we cannot clearly show that Jones or his ancestors to the property title in the watch were criminals, then we must say that since Mr. Jones has been possessing and using it, that he is truly the legitimate and just property owner.
Or, to put the case another way: if we do not know if Jones’s title to any given property is criminally-derived, then we may assume that this property was, at least momentarily in a state of no-ownership (since we are not sure about the original title), and therefore that the proper title of ownership reverted instantaneously to Jones as its “first” (i.e., current) possessor and user. In short, where we are not sure about a title but it cannot be clearly identified as criminally derived, then the title properly and legitimately reverts to its current possessor.
But now suppose that a title to property is clearly identifiable as criminal, does this necessarily mean that the current possessor must give it up? No, not necessarily. For that depends on two considerations: (a) whether the victim (the property owner originally aggressed against) or his heirs are clearly identifiable and can now be found; or (b) whether or not the current possessor is himself the criminal who stole the property. Suppose, for example, that Jones possesses a watch, and that we can clearly show that Jones’s title is originally criminal, either because (1) his ancestor stole it, or (2) because he or his ancestor purchased it from a thief (whether wittingly or unwittingly is immaterial here). Now, if we can identify and find the victim or his heir, then it is clear that Jones’s title to the watch is totally invalid, and that it must promptly revert to its true and legitimate owner. Thus, if Jones inherited or purchased the watch from a man who stole it from Smith, and if Smith or the heir to his estate can be found, then the title to the watch properly reverts immediately back to Smith or his descendants, without compensation to the existing possessor of the criminally derived “title.” Thus, if a current title to property is criminal in origin, and the victim or his heir can be found, then the title should immediately revert to the latter.
Suppose, however, that condition (a) is not fulfilled: in short, that we know that Jones’s title is criminal, but that we cannot now find the victim or his current heir. Who now is the legitimate and moral property owner? The answer to this question now depends on whether or not Jones himself is the criminal, whether Jones is the man who stole the watch. If Jones was the thief, then it is quite clear that he cannot be allowed to keep
it, for the criminal cannot be allowed to keep the reward of his crime; and he loses the watch, and probably suffers other punishments besides. In that case, who gets the watch? Applying our libertarian theory of property, the watch is now – after Jones has been apprehended – in a state of no-ownership, and it must therefore become the legitimate property of the first person to “homestead” it – to take it and use it, and therefore, to have converted it from an unused, no-ownership state to a useful, owned state. The first person who does so then becomes its legitimate, moral, and just owner.
But suppose that Jones is not the criminal, not the man who stole the watch, but that he had inherited or had innocently purchased it from the thief. And suppose, of course, that neither the victim nor his heirs can be found. In that case, the disappearance of the victim means that the stolen property comes properly into a state of no-ownership. But we have seen that any good in a state of no-ownership, with no legitimate owner of its title, reverts as legitimate property to the first person to come along and use it, to appropriate this now unowned resource for human use. But this “first” person is clearly Jones, who has been using it all along. Therefore, we conclude that even though the property was originally stolen, that if the victim or his heirs cannot be found, and if the current possessor was not the actual criminal who stole the property, then title to that property belongs properly, justly, and ethically to its current possessor.
To sum up, for any property currently claimed and used: (a) if we know clearly that there was no criminal origin to its current title, then obviously the current title is legitimate, just and valid; (b) if we don’t know whether the current title had any criminal origins, but can’t find out either way, then the hypothetically “unowned” property reverts instantaneously and justly to its current possessor; (c) if we do know that the title is originally criminal, but can’t find the victim or his heirs, then (c1) if the current title-holder was not the criminal aggressor against the property, then it reverts to him justly as the first owner of a hypothetically unowned property. But (c2) if the current titleholder is himself the criminal or one of the criminals who stole the property, then clearly he is properly to be deprived of it, and it then reverts to the first man who takes it out of its unowned state and appropriates it for his use. And finally, (d) if the current title is the result of crime, and the victim or his heirs can be found, then the title properly reverts immediately to the latter, without compensation to the criminal or to the other holders of the unjust title.
The implications for the Indian question are straightforward.  Namely: In the extremely unlikely event that any particular Indian can show that he personally is the rightful heir of a particular Indian who was wrongfully dispossessed of a particular piece of property, the current occupants should hand him the keys to his birthright and vacate the premises.  Otherwise the current occupants have the morally strongest claim to their property, and the status quo should continue.  Anything more is just the doctrine of collective guilt masquerading as a defense of property rights.


By Contributing Writer Molly Wilder
Autonomous man is–and should be–self-sufficient, independent, and self-reliant, a self-realizing individual who directs his efforts towards maximizing his personal gains. His independence is under constant threat from other (equally self-serving) individuals: hence he devises rules to protect himself from intrusion. Talk of rights, rational self-interest, expedience, and efficiency permeates his moral, social, and political discourse. (Lorraine Code 1991, What Can She Know? Feminist Theory and the Construction of Knowledge, p78)
Thus Lorraine Code describes the conception of autonomy in the popular imagination–and often in the academy as well. This conception of autonomy is obsessed with the self, as evidenced by the language Code uses to articulate it: “self-sufficient,” “self-reliant,” “self-realizing,” and “rational self-interest.” And the word ‘autonomous’ originally meant “self-rule” (derived from the Greek αὐτόνομος, from αὐτο-, ‘self’, and νόμος, ‘rule, law’). The image of the self that Code evokes is that of a citadel, forever warding off external attacks. These attacks are characterized as coming primarily from contact with other people—suggesting that relationships with other people are in themselves dangerous to the self. Though relationships may be valuable in some ways, they are a constant threat to the self’s interests.
Feminist philosophers have largely found this conception both accurate and deeply problematic. Though some feminists have therefore rejected the value of autonomy all together, many have instead sought to reclaim autonomy as a feminist value. Since the late 1980s, feminists have proposed and argued for a myriad of alternative conceptions of autonomy, which have collectively come to be known as theories of “relational autonomy.”
Theories of relational autonomy vary widely. Some, like Marilyn Friedman’s, still recognize the value of independence and conceive of autonomy as an internal procedure that is available to people of many different beliefs and circumstances. Such an internal procedure requires some sort of critical reflection on attitudes and actions, but places no limits on the outcome of the procedure. Thus, this sort of procedure makes it possible for a person to count as autonomous even if she endorses attitudes or actions that may seem incongruous with a liberal Western image of autonomy, such as discounting her own right to be respected or remaining in an abusive relationship.  In contrast, theories like Mariana Oshana’s put stringent requirements on the kind of actual practical control necessary for autonomy, significantly limiting those who can count as autonomous. Such theories might consider a person autonomous only if her circumstances meet certain conditions, such as economic independence or a wide range of available social opportunities—conditions that might not be met, for example, by a person in an abusive relationship.

And there are theories that aim somewhere in the middle, such as Andrea Westlund’s, whose conception of autonomy requires some accountability and connection to the outside world, but does so in a way that provides latitude for many different belief systems and social circumstances. Specifically, on Westlund’s account, a person is autonomous only if she holds herself open to criticism from other people. While this dialogical accountability is not a purely internal procedure like Friedman’s, as it involves people other than the agent herself, it does not inherently limit the outcome of the procedure as Oshana’s does. See this collection of essays for more on the theories of Friedman, Oshana, and Westlund, as well as other contemporary theorists of relational autonomy.
These theories, while diverse, share a rejection of the idea that autonomy is inherently threatened by relationships with others. On the contrary, they argue that certain relationships are in fact necessary to the development of autonomy, its maintenance, or both. These theories have provided a much needed new perspective on the concept of autonomy, and continue to provide new insights, particularly with respect to understanding the effect of oppression on selves.
But their core idea, that autonomy requires relationships, is an old one. Long before autonomy became so closely aligned with the protection of the self from others, a prominent strain of philosophy recognized relationships with others as crucial to the well-being of the self—rather than as a threat. To illustrate, consider these excerpts from an ancient philosopher, Aristotle, and a modern philosopher, Spinoza.
For Aristotle, the ultimate good in life, a kind of long-term happiness, is a self-sufficient good. The word he uses is ‘αὐτάρκης’ (derived from αὐτο-, “self,” and ἀρκέω, “to suffice”). He clarifies: “And by self-sufficient we mean not what suffices for oneself alone, living one’s life as a hermit, but also with parents and children and a wife, and friends and fellow citizens generally, since the human being is by nature meant for a city.” (Nicomachean Ethics, 1097b9-11, tr. Joe Sachs) Aristotle, then, explicitly understands self-sufficiency with respect to happiness to require certain kinds of relationships—those of family, friends, and political compatriots.
Though Aristotle does not discuss the concept of autonomy, this passage and others suggest that his ideal of independence was one that required intimate relationships, rather than being threatened by them. Aristotle famously wrote of humans as “political animals.” On a first reading of this phrase, it is apparent that humans are political simply in the sense that they tend to form social institutions by which to govern themselves. But the phrase might also be read to suggest that even at their most independent, humans are the kind of animals that rely on one another.
Spinoza, likewise, identifies the well-being of the self with happiness, and he argues that happiness consists in having the power to seek and acquire what is advantageous to oneself. One might reasonably summarize Spinoza’s view of happiness as the achievement of one’s rational self-interest. For a contemporary reader, Spinoza’s language naturally evokes the conception of autonomy articulated by Code, a conception in which the wellbeing of the self is naturally threatened by others.
Yet Spinoza explicitly argues that “nothing is more advantageous to man than man.” (Ethics, P18, Sch., trans. Samuel Shirley) On Spinoza’s view the only effective, and therefore rational, way for individual to seek her own advantage is with the help of others. In general, Spinoza criticizes those thoughts and emotions that push people apart—and he argues that when we fall prey to these things, we not only lose power, but we fail to act in the interest of our true selves. An individual’s true self-interest, he argues, is necessarily aligned with the true self-interest of others.
The examples I’ve given remind us that, despite the apparent radicalism of arguing that the concept of autonomy is inherently relational in our contemporary cultural context, the conjunction of terms of self and terms of relationality is both ancient and long-lived. The very concepts that Code uses to describe the kind of autonomy that sees relationships as a threat—self-sufficiency and rational self-interest—were once thought of as concepts that in fact required relationships.
Thirty years after she wrote it, Code’s depiction of autonomy as an atomistic individualism threatened by others still well-captures the general sense Americans have of autonomy. Although feminist philosophers have been fairly successful in gaining wide recognition of the importance of relationships to autonomy among philosophers who study autonomy, their impact has not been as wide as might be expected given the strength of their arguments. One major exception has been the field of bioethics, in which the discussion of feminist theories of relational autonomy is quite lively. Yet these theories have not been robustly taken up in other professional fields such as business or legal ethics. Nor have they been taken up in a pervasive way in mainstream philosophical ethics or political theory.
Moreover, they have been decidedly less successful in changing the popular conception of autonomy, particularly within the United States, where the threatened-self conception of autonomy is so revered in the nation’s mythology. Indeed, many Americans might be surprised to learn about the history of this conception and its relative novelty. While some philosophers are already doing this, perhaps it would be fruitful in going forward for people in all fields to spend some time tracing the development of their conceptions of autonomy and self—they might be surprised at what they find.
Perhaps one reason relational theories haven’t been taken up is because of their feminist origins. Some of the wariness, surely, is simply sexism, both explicit and implicit. But beyond that, there may be a perception that the theories are specifically tied to the interests of women. Yet, to borrow a delightfully biting phrase from Spinoza, if someone were to pay a modicum of attention, they would see that is not the case. The historical precursors of their ideas demonstrate this. While the contemporary standard bearers of relational autonomy may be feminists, the basic ideas are as old and general as philosophy itself, and if the ideas are true, they should prompt Americans to seriously reconsider their national assumptions and priorities. If autonomy is in fact relational, it calls into question standard American justifications and understandings of a huge array of policies and practices, everything from gun control to education to marriage.

Molly has just received her law degree from Georgetown University Law Center and is currently developing a dissertation that brings together the professional ethics of lawyers, neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics, and feminist theories of relational autonomy. She wants to know, can you be a (really) good person and a (really) good lawyer at the same time? Beyond her dissertation, Molly has varied philosophical interests, including philosophy of tort law, children’s rights, privacy, and communication. When not philosophizing, Molly enjoys reading children’s fantasy, finding places to eat great vegan food, and engaging in witty banter.

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