Autonomy, in general terms, is the condition, the state or the capacity for self-government or a certain degree of independence. Some synonyms for autonomy would be sovereignty, self-government, independence, emancipation and power. While antonyms are dependence and subordination.
Thus, the autonomy of a person is the ability or condition to carry out tasks independently. For example: “In my new job they have already given me some autonomy.”
Referred to municipalities, regions or organizations, autonomy is the power or power to establish their own regulations and governing bodies within the authority of a State. Hence, in some countries such as Spain, the territory is divided into autonomous communities.
The autonomy of a vehicle, on the other hand, is the maximum route it is able to make without refueling. For example: “This car has a range of 600 kilometers.”
It is also usually applied to different devices that have a battery or an energy accumulation mechanism. For example: “This computer has up to five hours of autonomy.”
The word autonomy comes from the Latin autonomy, and this in turn from the Greek αὐτονομία (autonomy), formed by αὐτός (autós), which means ‘same’, and νόμος (nodes), ‘law’ or ‘norm’.
The personal autonomy is a concept of disciplines such as philosophy, pedagogy and psychology. It can be defined in a generic way as the ability to make decisions and act on self-related issues. Personal autonomy works in different fields, such as early childhood education and education for people with disabilities.
Moral autonomy is the ability of the human being to assess aspects of moral character for himself, such as distinguishing what is right from what is wrong, or what is fair from the unjust. It is considered that people are able to judge a mode of action or a reality without taking into account external factors that may influence that assessment. However, on a real level, people’s moral autonomy is strongly influenced by the social environment. Moral autonomy is considered to be the product of human and personal development, and gives people a capacity for decision consistent with their moral values and their critical perception of the world.
Autonomy and heteronomy
The heteronomía is a philosophical concept that defines the condition of the will which is governed by imperatives that are not themselves but by external actors. In this sense, it is a concept opposite to the idea of autonomy. It is important not to confuse this concept with heteronymy, which is a linguistic term that identifies the relationship between two words of different etymological origins, for example, horse and mare.
The university autonomy is one of the principles that many universities are governed. It expresses that organizational and management aspects are carried out independently of other organizations and entities, for example, political power.
Autonomy and independence
Autonomy is not the same as independence. The independence is independent status, ie freedom to act, act and decide without being subject to the mandate of anyone. Independence is a term used in politics to refer to states that emancipated themselves from the domination of another State.
Autonomy, on the other hand, refers to a certain power or level of independence that a person or body has to act, make or decide, within certain terms. Thus, a province, a municipality, a district, a university or a department can enjoy some autonomy as long as they remain within the limits of the norms or laws that govern the higher entity of which they are tributaries.