To understand how morality and autonomy are related, it is necessary to understand what a will is as it is the basis for the rest of Kant’s philosophical theory. In laymen’s terms, a will can be perceived as simply the “notion” to perform a certain action, but with that we can further ask, what is this “notion”? To answer this question, it is necessary to understand that there are forces that act upon each human being that are outside of the human being; we can call these “laws”. Kant states that “everything in nature works according to laws”. For example, in real life some of these laws can be governmental laws, rules and conditions imposed by someone else or authoritative figure, or even desires and emotions cause by other people or other things. Human beings, however, do not only act in reaction to the laws imposed on us. If we were to on...
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...ance to freedom and moral law. Kant proves this by putting focus on the motive or intention of an action and whether the action has moral worth. For example, a person can act rightly in accordance with the moral law but could also be motivated by selfish or emotional reasons. In this case, although the person is acting in accordance with the moral law, they did not act with respect for the moral law as the action did not have free or good will. Instead, the motive was prudential.
Kant associates rationality, will, and moral law with autonomous action by putting focus on the good will and the motive or intention of an action. When one acts out of respect for the moral law, one freely chooses to obey the moral law uninfluenced by outside inclinations. If one freely chooses to will an action based what is morally correct, that is when an individual acts autonomously.
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