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The Virtues of Freedom

The essays collected in this volume by Paul Guyer, one of the world's foremost Kant scholars, explore Kant's attempt to develop a morality grounded on the intrinsic and unconditional value of the human freedom to set our own ends. When regulated by the principle that the freedom of all is equally valuable, the freedom to set our own ends - what Kant calls "humanity" - becomes what he calls autonomy. These essays explore Kant's strategies for establishing the premise that freedom is the inner worth of the world or the essential end of humankind, as he says, and for deriving the specific duties that fundamental principle of morality generates in the empirical circumstances of human existence. The Virtues of Freedom further investigates Kant's attempts to prove that we are always free to live up to this moral ideal, that is, that we have free will no matter what, as well as his more successful explorations of the ways in which our natural tendencies to be moral - dispositions to the feeling of respect and more specific feelings such as love and self-esteem - can and must be cultivated and educated. Guyer finally examines the various models of human community that Kant develops from his premise that our associations must be based on the value of freedom for all. The contrasts but also similarities of Kant's moral philosophy to that of David Hume but many of his other predecessors and contemporaries, such as Stoics and Epicureans, Pufendorf and Wolff, Hutcheson, Kames, and Smith, are also explored.
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About the Author

Paul Guyer received his AB and PhD from Harvard University. He has taught at the Universities of Pittsburgh, Illinois-Chicago, Pennsylvania, and Brown University. He is the author, editor, and translator of two dozen previous books, including nine monographs or collections on Kant and the three-volume History of Modern Aesthetics (2014). He has been General Co-Editor of the Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant, for which he has been co-editor of the Critique of Pure Reason and editor of Kant's Critique of the Power of Judgment and Notes and Fragments. He is a past president of the American Philosophical Association Eastern Division and the American Society of Aesthetics. He has held numerous fellowships in the United States, has been a Research Prize Winner of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation of the Federal Republic of Germany, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


This is a masterful achievement by one of the world's foremost Kant scholars. It represents a welcome and original contribution to Kant's ethics. It will be mandatory reading for anyone interested in Kant's conception of freedom ... Guyer succeeds in saying something new about a familiar theme in the way he untangles the novel aspects of Kant's account of the nature and value of moral freedom, and meticulously reconstructs Kant's various attempts to justify the claim that finite rational agents possess the freedom to act on the basis of categorical moral commands ... All of the essays advance scholarly debates about Kant's philosophy in notable ways. Guyer's analysis reflects a mastery of Kant's corpus and a deep knowledge of the relevant views of Kant's most important predecessors and contemporaries * Anne Margaret Baxley, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews *

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