Philosophy: Kant´s Free Will

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Do humans truly have free will or are their lives completely predetermined? This question of free will has and will always remain to be a place for argument in philosophy. Many of the great philosophers attempted to answer this question, but none did as well of a job as Immanuel Kant. He lays the basis of his argument in his Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics. Kant writes this prolegomena in response to David Hume’s of skepticism, and therefore, Kant is attempting to more firmly ground metaphysics. In the introduction Kant says, “I openly confess my recollection of David Hume was the very thing which many years ago first interrupted my dogmatic slumber and gave my investigations in the field of speculative philosophy a quite new direction” (Prolegomena). Kant makes a move towards critical philosophy versus skepticism. Kant was opposed to the concept that knowledge is gained through experience, which is essentially Hume’s platform. Kant attempts to use rationalism and empiricism to do this. His prolegomena was designed to make his philosophies more accessible to the general public. Further into his writing, Kant makes four theses, the third of which forms the argument for free will. “Thesis: There are in the world causes through freedom. Antithesis: There is no freedom, but all is nature” (Prolegomena). The argument being that we act in accordance with our own free will, versus the claim that everything we do is determined by nature. Nearly 250 years later this remains to be the central argument for or against free will.
Kant begins to explain his theses and when he reaches the third he says, “Now I may say without contradiction that all the actions of rational beings, so far as they are appearances (met with in an...

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...son is called the will” (Groundwork).
Moral Law seems to continually cause a problem for Kant’s theories, but there does not doubt that moral law does exist. There is a sense of what is “morally” right and wrong within each human. In yet another text Kant finally addresses a humans ability to willfully do wrong. In Religion Within the Limits of Reason Alone we witness a rather sharp turn in Kant’s perspective (Cherkasova 368). In this Kant speaks with urgency about the freedom of good or evil; he begins to associate freedom with the “absolute spontaneity of arbitrary will” (Religion). It no longer seems that Kant is saying that moral law is determined, and once again Kant’s argument makes sense. At times it feels like there is a lot of contradiction in his writing, but in reality it is through interpretation where the contradiction and confusion arises.

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