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Chapter 10 - What Emerged

Autonomy and Heteronomy in the Groundwork and Second Critique

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 October 2018

Stefano Bacin
Affiliation:
Università degli Studi di Milano
Oliver Sensen
Affiliation:
Tulane University, Louisiana
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Summary

This essay explains Kant’s idea of autonomy of the will and advances a thesis about how it emerges in his moral conception. Kant defines “autonomy” as “the property of the will by which it is a law to itself…” and argues that the Categorical Imperative is that law. I take the autonomy of the will to mean that the nature of rational volition is the source of the formal principle that authoritatively governs rational volition. I give a sense to this idea by pointing to an argument form found throughout the Groundwork and the second Critique where Kant moves from a conception of rational volition as a faculty to a statement of its formal principle. This idea of autonomy emerges in Kant’s moral conception (at the time he writes the Groundwork) as his solution to the problem of moral theory. Common sense assumes that moral requirements apply with unconditional necessity, and the problem of moral theory is to show how such requirements are possible. Kant’s resolution to this problem is to argue that the necessity of moral requirement is genuine only if based in autonomy of the will, only if based in a “law that arises from one’s will”.
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2018

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  • What Emerged
  • Edited by Stefano Bacin, Università degli Studi di Milano, Oliver Sensen, Tulane University, Louisiana
  • Book: The Emergence of Autonomy in Kant's Moral Philosophy
  • Online publication: 05 October 2018
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316863435.011
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  • What Emerged
  • Edited by Stefano Bacin, Università degli Studi di Milano, Oliver Sensen, Tulane University, Louisiana
  • Book: The Emergence of Autonomy in Kant's Moral Philosophy
  • Online publication: 05 October 2018
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316863435.011
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • What Emerged
  • Edited by Stefano Bacin, Università degli Studi di Milano, Oliver Sensen, Tulane University, Louisiana
  • Book: The Emergence of Autonomy in Kant's Moral Philosophy
  • Online publication: 05 October 2018
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316863435.011
Available formats
×