Kant and the Limits of Autonomy Reviewed


I’m not getting this one for Christmas, but I’m looking forward to reading it – reviewed by Tatiana Patrone:

At a Kant conference last summer, I met a beginning graduate student who said that “everything in Kant fascinated her” but that she will “for now focus only on Kant’s notion of freedom.”  People at our lunch table smiled — while certainly admirable, the hope to focus “only” on what Kant said about freedom seems so unrealistic that one feels bewildered about a project such as this (unless one is in her twenties!)  And yet Susan Shell undertakes a task equally (if not more) gargantuan in her 2009 Kant and the Limits of Autonomy.  This task is made even more challenging by Shell’s consistent commitment not only to the analysis of Kant’s arguments (pre-critical and critical) concerning autonomy, but also to looking at the historical context in which these arguments emerged and developed.  As the result, Shell’s 400-page exposition of Kant’s notion of autonomy and of the surrounding issues provides a wonderful guide to anyone who is interested in the many levels and in the philosophical complexity of the topic.

4 thoughts on “Kant and the Limits of Autonomy Reviewed

  1. There’s another nice comment by the bloggers over at A Tiny Revolution on the exchange at http://www.tinyrevolution.com/mt/. Here’s an excerpt:

    >The horrifying reality is that Greg Mankiw may actually believe that there’s no reason for an economics graduate student to be worried about attaching their name to criticizing Larry Summers (and Greg Mankiw). How can anyone believe money and power have anything to do with what happens in academic economics? The only power that matters is the power of ideas. I mean, how else can you explain the fact that Greg Mankiw has an endowed chair at Harvard, one of the most left-wing institutions on the face of the earth?

  2. I thought her attempt to relate the moral law to hypochondria in her last book was quite imaginative . . . She’s good at showing how some small detail or bizarre argument is actually central . . . Although I suspect that kind of reading is going out of style.

    • Let’s hope it’ll make a comeback, because that’s what makes reading fun – I’m getting tired of simple presentation of the issues (lecturing) or some minor discovery heralded as a important idea…

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