from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Subject to external or foreign laws or domination; not autonomous.
  • adj. Biology Differing in development or manner of specialization, as the dissimilar segments of certain arthropods.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. not autonomous
  • adj. differing in development or in specialization
  • adj. being a dialect of an autonomous language

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Subject to the law of another.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • In biology, of a different kind or order in any series or set of related things; differentiated or specialized in some way from a common type, in accordance with a law of adaptive modification.
  • Pertaining to or characterized by heteronomy.
  • Subject to or governed by different principles or laws.
  • In zoology, made up of dissimilar segments or metameres: said of annelids or arthropods in which the various metameres differ in structure through the suppression of certain organs and the unusual development of others. Opposed to homonomous.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

hetero- + Greek nomos, law; see -nomy + -ous.


  • To say that we are heteronomous because of this is therefore deeply problematic.

    Autonomy in Moral and Political Philosophy

  • The characterization of appropriately ruled non-philosophers as slavish might suggest a special concern for the “heteronomous” character of their capacity to do what they want and a special valorization of the philosophers '“autonomous” capacity.

    Plato's Ethics and Politics in The Republic

  • Nevertheless, we can see the extent of the influence of moral sense theories on Kant's ethics in the way that moral feeling continued to figure in Kant's moral thought long after he rejected moral sense theories as heteronomous.

    Kant and Hume on Morality

  • A negatively free will cannot be heteronomous; so it must be autonomous.

    Kant and Hume on Morality

  • According to Kant, only autonomous legislation can yield a categorical imperative; whereas heteronomous legislation can yield only hypothetical imperatives.

    Kant and Hume on Morality

  • In Kantian categories, this second line of argument singles out not the evil of heteronomous considerations, but the goodness of considerations that autonomous and reasonable agents could accept as an appropriate basis for settling fundamental political questions.

    Religion and Political Theory

  • He may also mean that he believes controlled anarchy as the demise of any heteronomous authority sets the proper conditions for the discovery of suppressed esoteric trends in a society.

    Gershom Scholem

  • Liberals might criticize this on anti-paternalist grounds, objecting that such measures will require the state to use resources in ways that the supposedly heteronomous individuals, if left to themselves, might have chosen to spend in other ways.

    Positive and Negative Liberty

  • That should teach us that the desire for marriage has to be originally and primarily autonomous rather than heteronomous: one has to want to marry, and marry this person, wholeheartedly and for their own sake, else one isn't going to make a truly sacramental go of it.

    Marriage and vocation

  • For reason to be autonomous, its activity must be spontaneous; but this spontaneity cannot be conceived of psychologically, because human cognition as a matter of fact has a passive, and therefore heteronomous, intuitive element, namely sensibility.

    Paul Natorp


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