To be or Not to be Authentic: In Defence of Authenticity as an Ethical Ideal

Bauer, K., Jun-2017, In : Ethical Theory and Moral Practice. 20, 3, p. 567-580 14 p.

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  • Katharina Bauer

It has recently been pointed out that the cloudiness of the concept of authenticity as well as inflated ideologies of the 'true self' provide good reasons to criticize theories and ideals of authenticity. Nevertheless, there are also good reasons to defend an ethical ideal of authenticity, not least because of its critical and oppositional force, which is directed against experiences of self-abandonment and self-alienation. I will argue for an elaborated ethical ideal of authenticity: the ambitious ideal of a continuous self-reflective process of 'self-authentication'. For this purpose, the ideal of being authentic in expressing and unfolding one's individual personality and characteristics will be combined with the ideal of being 'an authentic person' - whereby 'a person' is to be understood in a Kantian sense as an autonomous person who is (at least potentially) reasonable and morally responsible.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)567-580
Number of pages14
JournalEthical Theory and Moral Practice
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun-2017


  • Authenticity, Autonomy, Person, Responsibility for one's self

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