Autonomy, Candour and Professional Teacher Practice: A Discussion Inspired by the Later Works of Michel Foucault


Publication date


Series/Report no

Journal of Philosophy of Education;45 (4)



Document type


Autonomy is considered to be an important feature of professionals and to provide a necessary basis for their informed judgments. In this article these notions will be challenged. In this article I use Michel Foucault’s deconstruction of the idea of the autonomous citizen, and his later attempts to reconstruct that idea, in order to bring some new perspectives to the discussion about the foundation of professionalism. The turning point in Foucault’s discussion about autonomy is to be found in his proposal for an ethics of the self. This ethics invites a break with the normalising discourses of modernity. As I see it, this makes it particularly relevant to a discussion about the principles of professionalism. The conception of parrhesia is central. I use the role of the teacher to illustrate my arguments.



This is a postprint version of an article published in Journal of Philosophy of Education 2011, 45 (4). Original article available at URL:

Permanent URL (for citation purposes)