Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 June 2012
According to Kant's definition, imputation is the judgment through which someone is seen as the author, namely the free cause, of an action “which is then called deed (factum) and is subject to the laws.” This definition is not simply a repetition of Wolff's claim that the application of a law to an act implies imputation of this act. Instead Kant surpasses Wolff by saying that imputation of an action as a “deed (factum)” subjects the action to the law. Imputing an action to another person means I not only see the action as freely undertaken, but also evaluate the action under moral laws. Wolff sees applying the law as a sufficient condition for imputing an action and Kant agrees. Still, Kant also sees imputing the action as a sufficient condition for applying the law. Freedom cannot be conceived other than as freedom subject to the rules of practical reason (morality), or laws of freedom.
The relevant laws to which actions are subjected are not only prescriptions and proscriptions (“You should render first aid!,” “You should not steal!”), but also permissive laws, and primarily the permissive law in §2 of the Doctrine of Right with its extensive consequences for property, contract, and family law. Let us consider legal possession of things, meaning ownership of those things. This legal possession is different from merely physical possession, which belongs to the sensible world and to theoretical cognition of this sensible world.