Moral Community: Escaping the Ethical State of Nature

Philosophers' Imprint 9 (8) (2009)
Abstract
I attempt to vindicate our authority to create new practical reasons for others by making choices of own own. In The Doctrine of Right Kant argues that we have an obligation to leave the Juridical State of Nature and found the state. In a less familiar passage in Religion within the Bounds of Mere Reason he argues for an obligation to leave what he calls the Ethical State of Nature and join together in the Moral Community. I read both texts as addressing and trying to resolve a tension between our individual freedom and our authority to make claims on one another. I explicate the political argument, and then develop the view that Kant sketches in the Religion, arguing that regarding others as capable of making choices that give you reasons to act is a condition of the full exercise of your autonomy.
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