The Principle of Autonomy's Enduring Validity
5 Pages Posted: 14 Nov 2021
Date Written: October 1, 2021
Pauline Kleingeld has offered a promising interpretation of the Groundwork’s Principle of Autonomy, according to which Kant is analogizing 1) an individual agent’s relation to her maxim to 2) a legislator’s relation to legislation. (Kleingeld 2018a) Sorin Baiasu praises this well-supported interpretation, but expresses skepticism about Kleingeld's further argument that Kant’s evolving views on the significance of elections undermined his analogy. I explain why I find Baiasu’s argument persuasive and offer additional considerations in support of his thesis. Then, I suggest that popular English translations of Kant’s Formula of Autonomy have obscured a possibility that we should consider: Kant may have intended to compare a human will to the united general will of the people itself rather than to the will of a public official or institution. If this alternative reading were correct, then Kant’s evolving views on the significance of elections could have no possible relevance to the Formula of Autonomy.
Keywords: Immanuel Kant, Moral Philosophy, Autonomy, Paulin Kleingeld
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