Immanuel Kant And Free Will

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In Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, Immanuel Kant discusses laws of nature and freedom and acting with reason versus impulse, with the implication of free will. This explication will discuss the qualifications of reason and being rational, acting in conformity of the law or with the representation of the law, and giving oneself a law with free will. These premises set by Kant lead him to conclude that only rational beings have the ability to act “in accordance with the representation of laws” and this ability gives rational beings free will (4:413).

Kant puts forth the premise that “everything in nature works in accordance with laws” (4:413). Within these laws, there are laws dictating biological needs, impulse, inclinations, and facts (such as gravity or hunger) and there are laws dictating voluntary behavior, such as the laws of freedom, that guide morals. (4:388) Kant determines there two types of beings, rational beings (those who act with reason) and irrational beings (those who act from impulse). Reason implies acting after deliberation and consideration for outcomes
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According to Kant, free will comes from respecting a law, giving the law to oneself, and guiding action in accordance with the representation of the law (4:400). Since giving a law to oneself does not include a higher power or governing body, we call this free will, for we are acting from our own volition, because we have decided through reason, that a law has value in itself and is a beneficial guide to actions (4:400). When children do not hit others because their parents have told them not to, they are given the law by a superior power (parents in this instance), they have not given the law to themselves, and thus, do not have free will. Therefore, those who govern themselves with reason (rational beings) by giving themselves the law to guide actions by, are the only beings with free

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