A Lawful Freedom: Kant’s Practical Refutation of Noumenal Chance

Kant Studies Online (1):149-177 (2015)
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This paper asks how Kant’s mature theory of freedom handles an objection pertaining to chance. This question is significant given that Kant raises this criticism against libertarianism in his early writings on freedom before coming to adopt a libertarian view of freedom in the Critical period. After motivating the problem of how Kant can hold that the free actions of human beings lack determining grounds while at the same maintain that these are not the result of ‘blind chance,’ I argue that Kant’s Critical doctrine of transcendental idealism, while creating the conceptual space’ for libertarian freedom, is not intended to provide an answer to the problem of chance with respect to our free agency. I go on to show how the resources for a refutation of chance only come about in the practical philosophy. In the 2nd Critique, Kant famously argues for the reality of freedom on the basis of our consciousness of the moral law as the law of a free will. However, Kant also comes to build into his account of the will a genuine power of choice, which involves the capacity to deviate from the moral law. I conclude by showing that this apparent tension can be resolved by turning to his argument for the impossibility of a diabolical will. This involves a consideration of the distinct kind of grounding relationship that practical laws have to the human will, as well as the way that transcendental idealism makes this possible.
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