Contradictory Freedoms? Kant on Moral Agency and Political Rights
This essay examines the degree to which Kant’s understanding of external freedom and right are consistent with and can form a part of his moral philosophy. In doing so, this essay begins by looking at the foundation and possibility of moral experience as it is presented in the Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals. This essay then turns to explore Kant’s understanding of external freedom and right as set out in The Metaphysics of Morals and examines the apparent inconsistencies that exist between these concepts and Kant’s explication of moral worth. After pointing out the distinction between right and morality, this essay goes on to argue that, strictly speaking, Kant’s conception of external freedom and right cannot form part of his moral philosophy (as so defined in the Groundwork). Finally, this essay concludes by arguing that although right and morality are irreconcilable, Kant’s account of external freedom and right can nevertheless serve as part of his "moral" philosophy insofar as these concepts represent Kant’s attempt to externalize the moral law or simply expand the definition of morality to cover any action that accords with the right.