The autonomy and heteronomy They are concepts associated with human action, insofar as people’s behavior can be carried out as a result of decisions made on their own, or through the influence of an external agent. For example: listen to one kind of music or another, always wear the clothes that appear in the magazines.
In fact, the actual performance of the action is always private and individual, but it may happen that the person is forced or simply motivated to do it by some motive other than him.
The origin of the difference between autonomous and heteronomous actions lies in psychology and in research on morality: one way to define this antinomy is to think about whether moral norms come from oneself or from another.
Whoever establishes a mandate for which another must act is using his moral autonomyWhile the person who receives the mandate may only be using autonomy if he himself established it, or if he has complete freedom to abide by it.
Contributions of Psychology
The psychology He had many contributions in relation to moral judgment, and among all of them that of Jean Piaget stands out, who considered that throughout the child’s education there are two phases precisely delimited by heteronomy or the autonomy of morality:
- Autonomous phase. It takes place from the first socialization until approximately eight years of age, where the rules imposed for each aspect of life are unquestionable, and justice is identified with the most severe sanction.
- Heteronomous phase. From 9 to 12 years old, the child internalizes the rules but modifies them with the consent of all: the sense of justice becomes equitable treatment.
External conditioning factors
Perform a judgment that objectively divide the autonomous behaviors of the heteronomous ones would imply leaving a large number of assumptions assumed. Perhaps the most important of them is that people have a certain autonomy, which is highly debatable.
Throughout history, there were a large number of factors that conditioned the way of thinking, feeling and acting of people among whom religion stands out, but that many authors considered their way.
For Augusto Comte society was the issuer of moral mandates, for Karl Marx the ruling capitalist class, and for Friedrich Nietzsche the very subject who obeys, approaching the theory of autonomy.
Examples of autonomous behaviors
To exemplify, some clear examples of behaviors that can be classified as autonomous will be listed below:
- Dress as you choose, beyond fashions or trends.
- Deciding to break up with a partner despite the fact that your parents ask you to continue it.
- Consume a substance that is harmful to the body, even though everyone tells you not to.
- Decide individual political preferences.
- Listen to one kind of music or another.
- Choose a career to study or change the area of study.
- Respect the traditions of the creed to which one belongs, in an unfavorable context.
- Go against the grain, if a child observes that others are doing the wrong thing.
- Begin to practice a sport, in an environment where one does not know any partner.
- Stop smoking, in a context where everyone smokes.
Examples of heteronomous behaviors
In opposition, here is a list of examples of clearly heteronomous behaviors:
- Always wear the clothes that appear in the magazines.
- Continuing a partner that one does not want, due to family pressure.
- Pay attention to the doctor in front of any advice or prescription.
- Being part of a clientelist network to support a politician.
- Always prefer the album that they pass on the radio.
- Carry out the studies ordered by the boss.
- Comply with a political prohibition to practice a cult.
- Joining the crowd and mistreating a partner.
- Start an activity because all the friends started it.
- Stop smoking by order of the doctor.