Autonomy for Kant is not just a synonym for the capacity to choose, whether simple or deliberative. It is what the word literally implies: the imposition of a law on one's own authority and out of one's own rational resources. In "Kant and the Limits of Autonomy", Shell explores the limits of Kantian autonomy - both the force of its claims and the complications to which they give rise. Through a careful examination of major and minor works, Shell argues for the importance of attending to the difficulty inherent in autonomy and to the related resistance that in Kant's view autonomy necessarily provokes in us. Such attention yields new access to Kant's famous, and famously puzzling, "Groundlaying of the Metaphysics of Morals". It also provides for a richer and more unified account of Kant's later political and moral works; and it highlights the pertinence of some significant but neglected early writings, including the recently published Lectures on Anthropology. "Kant and the Limits of Autonomy" is both a rigorous, philosophically and historically informed study of Kantian autonomy and an extended meditation on the foundation and limits of modern liberalism.
Susan Meld Shell is Professor of Political Science, Boston College.
* Introduction: Taking Autonomy Seriously Part One: Getting There *"Carazan's Dream": Kant's Early Theory of Freedom * Kant's Archimedean Moment: Remarks in "Observation Concerning the Feeling of the Beautiful and the Sublime" * Rousseau, Count Verri, and the "True Economy of Human Nature": Lectures on Anthropology, 1772--1781 * The "Paradox" of Autonomy Part Two: Complications on Arrival * Introduction to Part Two: Late Kant: 1789--1798 * Moral Hesitation in Religion within the Boundaries of Bare Reason * Kant's "True Politics": Volkerrecht in Toward Perpetual Peace and The Metaphysics of Morals * Kant as Educator: Conflict of the Faculties, Part One * Archimedes Revisited: Honor and History in The Conflict of the Faculties, Part Two * Kant's Jewish Problem * Conclusion * Notes * Index