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Autonomy and the Idea of Freedom: Some Reflections on Groundwork III


AbstractThis article explores a set of questions about the ‘idea of freedom’ that Kant introduces in the fourth paragraph ofGroundworkIII. I develop a reading that supports treating it as a normative notion and brings out its normative content in some detail. I argue that we should understand the idea as follows: that it is a general feature of reasoning and judgement that it understands itself to be a correct or sound application of the normative standards of the relevant domain of cognition, not influenced by irrelevant or external factors. Reasoning and judgement are thus normatively committed to these standards of correctness. A second and related concern is to explore connections between the idea of freedom and Kant’s conception of autonomy and to identify different points at which autonomy plays a role in the argument ofGroundworkIII. In the final section, I mine the idea of freedom for a set of normative commitments specific to rational agency that play a foundational role in Kant’s moral conception.

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