The continuity of the role of freedom in Kant's ethics

Graham, Elizabeth Mary (2008) The continuity of the role of freedom in Kant's ethics. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

In this thesis I demonstrate that Kant's notion of freedom remains consistent throughout his practical philosophy. By examining Kant's notion of Wille in the Metaphysics of Morals, we see that finite rational agents can choose against the moral law. Some Kant scholars, when interpreting Kant's early moral philosophy, omit the possibility that finite rational agents can freely choose against the moral law. Instead, they maintain that the only options available to finite rational beings are to act in accordance with the moral law, which is a free act, or act based on empirical incentives, which is a determined act. Through introducing the practical example of suicide, I show that this interpretation logically excludes certain acts, as well as removes any notion of moral responsibility from Kant's practical philosophy. However, through an examination of An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment?, the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, and the Critique of Practical Reason, I follow such commentators as Henry Allison in showing that Kant clearly maintains that finite rational agents can freely choose to act against the moral law and thus are responsible for all of their actions including their immoral acts.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/10567
Item ID: 10567
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (leaves 115-125)
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Philosophy
Date: 2008
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Ethics; Free will and determinism.

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