Kant's Deduction of Freedom and Morality

Karl Ameriks

in Interpreting Kant's Critiques

Published in print August 2003 | ISBN: 9780199247318
Published online January 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191601699 | DOI:
 Kant's Deduction of Freedom and Morality

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Concerns a pivotal development in Kant’s practical philosophy, one that confirms the central role of judgement and experience in Kant’s philosophy. Kant’s first major work in practical philosophy, the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals (1785), suggests a very intriguing but ultimately unsatisfying argument for the validity of morality, one that starts at first from a mere consideration of the general nature of human judgement. For a wide variety of inadequately appreciated considerations having to do with refinements in his epistemology and theory of mind between the two editions of the first Critique, Kant’s second major work in practical philosophy, the Critique of Practical Reason (1788), adopts a very different and explicitly more regressive strategy. Argues that there is a ‘great reversal’ in Kant’s position here, contrary to the readings of scholars such as Paton, Beck, and Henrich, who have contended in effect that there exists a deep continuity in these major texts, either because there is also something like a regressive strategy already in the Groundwork or because there is also a non-regressive strategy carried forward into the second Critique. Kant’s discussion in the second Critique makes fully explicit, for the first time, that the ‘experience’ lying at the basis of his practical philosophy is not anything as general as the apparent spontaneity of the mind in the process of judging or willing as such, but instead involves a kind of absolute freedom that can be grounded only regressively through the specific premise of a binding form of moral experience (called ‘the fact of reason’).

Keywords: fact of reason; freedom; idea of reason; judgement; morality; regressive argument; reversal

Chapter.  17601 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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