Hobbes v Kant – debate

It is difficult to classify Kant exactly because he seems to argue both for free will in the noumenal realm of things in themselves (a priori ideas) and at the same time, determinism in the phenomenal realm of cause and effect. In the table below Hobbes and Kant are presented in stark contrast –  but is it right to do so?

Hobbes (1588-1679) Kant (1724 -1804)
Compatibilist Libertarian or compatibilist?
Free will compatible with determinism. Free will incompatible with determinism.
Freedom = unobstructed will Freedom = decision of our reason
Desires control our actions. Reason overrides desires and emotions
Voluntariness = doing what I want Freedom is deciding, more than wanting
Wants and desires are caused. Free will means it’s up to us to choose
Desire is a causal power, impelling action. Intention is a type of metaphysical cause, which with reason is the source of moral choices.
I choose to remain in the locked room, passively believing I have free will. I can decide to leave the locked room, and in rattling the door I actively prove my freedom.
Will is caused and so only minimally free Will is a capacity for action, so is free
We can be causally determined, as long as we’re not obstructed, we’re free. We are part of the physical world governed by laws of nature (eg cause and effect) The will belongs to the noumenal world, different from the phenomenal world of cause and effect. We share with God and the angels the capacity to choose.
“Liberty consists in doing what we have the will, desire or inclination to do…a free man is he that is not hindered to do what he has the will to do”. “There is no reason why freedom should be denied to will, considered as a thing-in-itself, merely because it must be denied to it as a phenomenon.”
Problem: doesn’t differentiate humans from animals whose wills are “unobstructed”, so appears counter-intuitive. Problem: if our will is uncaused, isn’t it just a random thing?







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