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Reason, Freedom and Morality: An Interpretation and Defence of Kant's Groundwork III

Saunders, Joe (2015) Reason, Freedom and Morality: An Interpretation and Defence of Kant's Groundwork III. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Kant worries that if we are not free, morality will be nothing more than a phantasm for us. In the final section of the Groundwork, he attempts secure our freedom, and with it, morality. Here is a simplified version of his argument: 1. A rational will is a free will 2. A free will stands under the moral law 3. Therefore, a rational will stands under the moral law In this thesis, I offer an interpretation and defence of this. I begin by defending the first two premises. I follow Kant to argue that reason involves freedom, and offer an account of the relationship between freedom and morality. I then turn to two prominent objections. Commentators often complain that Kant has not managed to establish that we are rational beings with wills in the first place, and that he equivocates in his use of ‘free’ between premise 1 and 2. I argue that both of these objections can be overcome, and thus seek to defend Kant’s approach in Groundwork III. In doing so, I depart from Kant (and Kantians) at several points. Most significantly, I argue against a non-metaphysical account of freedom, an anti-realist meta-ethics, and transcendental idealism itself. I stay with the spirit of Kant’s project, but often depart from the letter. In this, I find my project to be post-Kantian; I begin with Kant, but end up alongside his successors. Through this, I hope to vindicate our conception of ourselves as free, such that morality is no phantasm.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield) > Philosophy (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.657012
Depositing User: Dr Joe Saunders
Date Deposited: 20 Jul 2015 12:34
Last Modified: 03 Oct 2016 12:18
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/9380

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