I believe the biggest contrast between the libertarian notion of freedom and Kant’s version is the idea of autonomy (Kant) versus heteronomy (libertarian). Libertarian’s value their right to be able to do anything they please to do with their time and properties so long as their desires are met. They believe in self-ownership because this concept allows them to do just that exactly.
However, Kant would call this definition of freedom as heteronomous because the motive behind doing what a person wants to do often lies due to an external reasoning or law that they allow to govern themselves with and not because of reasoning or law that they have given for themselves. An example that was given was of a college student being up at 3am trying to ponder over topics that would be good to write about for his Ethics paper. The student’s roommate further questions why is writing a good ethics paper important and the student first replied because then he could get a good grade, but the more the roommate kept asking “why,” the student finally came to the conclusion that what really motivates him is being successful and making money in the future so that he could eat lobster often. Kant states that this would be considered heteronomous determination because the student is doing the act for the sake of something else. He is motivated to write a good ethics paper because in the long run he wants to be successful at school, get a good paying job, become rich and be able to eat lobster more frequently, all of which are external reasoning’s.
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Kant challenges libertarian’s idea of freedom by questioning whether or not the reason behind doing what it is that pleases them is because of another reason or if it’s because it’s something they that person desires to do internally. Kant’s notion of freedom revolves around the idea of autonomy and the idea that people’s acts are based on a reasoning or law that they themselves have established for their themselves and follow. I sort of see it as building one’s own morals and allowing that to guide their action and decisions, however, I think Kant wants it to be more than just about personal morals, but a set of reasoning that a person follows as they go through life that motivates them to do the right things for their own right reasons.
I think that Kant’s notion of freedom is far more noble than that of libertarians because he challenges all of us to think of our every action with the basis of our own self-governing laws and motivates. If I’m interpreting it correctly, I think that Kant’s idea of autonomous freedom in a way forms more genuine people because acting autonomously would mean doing actions and making certain decisions based on our own values and motives and not because of external influences. However, If I’m going to be realistic, I think that I would fall more so under the libertarian’s version of freedom because I myself am guilty of having heteronomous determination just trying to finish this discussion post! For me, I’m trying to write a good discussion post so that I can get a passing grade for the class, which would mean having a likelier chance at being successful in school, and a higher chance at getting a good job and being successful in the near future. Although, these discussions have been so interesting and I do enjoy them hahah!
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