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Autonomy of the will and fact of reason according to Kant

Grant number: 12/00545-4
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctoral
Effective date (Start): July 01, 2012
Effective date (End): January 31, 2016
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Philosophy - History of Philosophy
Principal Investigator:Ricardo Ribeiro Terra
Grantee:Marília Lopes de Figueiredo Do Espírito Santo
Host Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Associated scholarship(s):12/23014-4 - The preparatory argument in groundwork III, BE.EP.PD


The autonomy of the will, as formulated by Kant, plays a central role for the understanding of morality under human conditions. For a long time, it was conceived that moral obligation was something external, be it divine or not. Kant internalizes the source of moral law and shows that human beings not only can act morally, but ought to, because the moral law is a self-imposed one. Moral obligation, in this sense, will not present itself as a burden to the agent, but it will represent, in the last instance, the full development of humans as rational beings. The explanation of the concept of autonomy is complicated, among other factors, due to various forms it acquires in Kant's texts.In the Groundwork of the metaphysics of morals, Kant seeks to justify the autonomy deductively from freedom. In the Critique of practical reason, however, Kant introduces autonomy as a fact of reason. The doctrine of the fact of reason has led most commentators to claim that Kant was abandoned the idea of a deduction of autonomy because it was a failure. In the second Critique, therefore, Kant is supposed to show that a deduction of autonomy is neither possible nor necessary, since it is itself evident, as a fact.In a different perspective, assuming that Kant did not believe the deduction of the third section of the Groundwork had failed, and the doctrine of the fact of reason does not replace it, our purpose is to search into the way that both arguments can be said compatible.

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