The Scope of Responsibility in Kant's Theory of Free Will

In this paper, I discuss a problem for Kant's strategy of appealing to the agent qua noumenon to undermine the significance of determinism in his theory of free will. I then propose a solution. The problem is as follows: given determinism, how can some agent qua noumenon be 'the cause of the causality' of the appearances of that agent qua phenomenon without being the cause of the entire empirical causal series? This problem has been identified in the literature (Ralph Walker provides what is perhaps the most dramatic presentation of it). But it has never received an adequate solution. In this paper, I argue that Walker’s objection is only decisive if we must understand our responsibility as responsibility for events, but not causal laws. I argue that we need not interpret Kant's theory in this way. I demonstrate that each agent qua noumenon could be responsible for "limited instantiation scope" causal laws which necessitate only the phenomenal actions of that same agent qua phenomenon. Part of this project involves showing that there are relevant constituents of actions which are "rare" enough to instantiate such laws. I demonstrate that, on Kant's view, events in agents’ bodies are not rare enough, but events in agents’ phenomenal souls are.
Keywords Kant  free will  incompatibilism  causal laws  determinism  noumena  agent causation  intelligible character  moral responsibility  transcendental freedom
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1080/09608780903339202
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history
Request removal from index
Download options
Our Archive
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Kant's Transcendental Idealism.Henry E. Allison - 2004 - Yale University Press.
Self and Nature in Kant's Philosophy.Allen W. Wood (ed.) - 1984 - Cornell University Press.

View all 12 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Persons, Punishment, and Free Will Skepticism.Benjamin Vilhauer - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 162 (2):143-163.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
The Folk Psychology of Free Will: Fits and Starts.Shaun Nichols - 2004 - Mind and Language 19 (5):473-502.
Agent-Causation and Agential Control.Markus E. Schlosser - 2008 - Philosophical Explorations 11 (1):3-21.
The Problem of Enhanced Control.Christopher Evan Franklin - 2011 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (4):687 - 706.
Kant's Theory of Freedom.Jonathan Bennett - 1984 - In Allen W. Wood (ed.), Self and Nature in Kant's Philosophy. Cornell University Press.
Defending Hard Incompatibilism.Derk Pereboom - 2005 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 29 (1):228-247.
Can We Interpret Kant as a Compatibilist About Determinism and Moral Responsibility?Benjamin Vilhauer - 2004 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 12 (4):719 – 730.
Added to PP index

Total downloads
66 ( #81,099 of 2,180,638 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
8 ( #29,023 of 2,180,638 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads
My notes
Sign in to use this feature

There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.

Other forums