We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham Research Online
You are in:

Kant and the problem of recognition : freedom, transcendental idealism, and the third-person.

Saunders, Joe (2016) 'Kant and the problem of recognition : freedom, transcendental idealism, and the third-person.', International journal of philosophical studies., 24 (2). pp. 164-182.


Kant wants to show that freedom is possible in the face of natural necessity. Transcendental idealism is his solution, which locates freedom outside of nature. I accept that this makes freedom possible, but object that it precludes the recognition of other rational agents. In making this case, I trace some of the history of Kant’s thoughts on freedom. In several of his earlier works, he argues that we are aware of our own activity. He later abandons this approach, as he worries that any awareness of our activity involves access to the noumenal, and thereby conflicts with the epistemic limits of transcendental idealism. In its place, from the second Critique onwards, Kant argues that we are conscious of the moral law, which tells me that I ought to do something, thus revealing that I can. This is the only proof of freedom consistent with transcendental idealism, but I argue that such an exclusively first-personal approach precludes the (third-personal) recognition of other rational agents. I conclude that transcendental idealism thus fails to provide an adequate account of freedom. In its place, I sketch an alternative picture of how freedom is possible, one that locates freedom within, rather than outside of nature.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Winner of the 2015 Robert Papazian Annual Essay Prize on Themes from Ethics and Political Philosophy
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Download PDF
Publisher Web site:
Publisher statement:This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in International Journal of Philosophical Studies on 29 Mar 2016, available online:
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:13 December 2018
Date of first online publication:29 March 2016
Date first made open access:13 December 2018

Save or Share this output

Look up in GoogleScholar