Legislating for a Realm of Ends: The Social Dimension of Autonomy

Andrews Reath

in Agency and Autonomy in Kant's Moral Theory

Published in print February 2006 | ISBN: 9780199288830
Published online May 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780191603648 | DOI:
 Legislating for a Realm of Ends: The Social Dimension of Autonomy

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This chapter uses the connection between Kant's conception of autonomy and his concept of a realm of ends to explore a number of issues about the nature of autonomy. It begins by developing some general observations about how freedom and autonomy may be related to governance by rules and standards. We tend to think that rules restrict free activity, but there are also rules that make meaningful and creative activities possible. Attention to the different functions that rules serve, specifically to their constitutive role, supplies another key element in dissolving the conflict between autonomy and governance by rules. The chapter then considers instances where the freedom to engage in certain activities and governance by rules are not in tension. It introduces rules with a special (non-restrictive) function, but there is no thought that these rules are self-imposed or self-chosen. This framework is applied to Kant's conception of the autonomy of the moral agent.

Keywords: autonomy; realm of ends; rational agents; sovereignty; moral agent

Chapter.  12301 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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