Volume 14, 2018
History of Philosophy
Kant’s Causal Theory of Action and the Freedom of the Will
This paper presents an interpretation of Kant’s understanding of the concept of an action of a subject as an instance of a causal way he has of understanding certain other concepts as well, including his concept of appearance and that of event. I will call this way of understanding a concept “a causal theory” of the object so conceived, e.g. a causal theory of an action, an appearance, or an event, because the indicated concept logically requires the existence of an object as the cause of the existence of the object so conceived. The argument is that the theory I am attributing to Kant as his causal theory of action provides the basis for an interpretation of his theory of the freedom of the will that is integral to his moral philosophy. The paper thus starts with a general way of understanding his use of causal theory, continues with his understanding of the concepts of appearance, event, and action, thence to his theory of freedom, and concludes, briefly, with his theory of morality.