Kantian Freedom Framework

The value criterion is...respecting a system of equal and outer freedom.

Here are some of the best justifications for a Kantian freedom framework.

Morality’s directives can only be categorically binding if they are constitutive of agency, i.e., if an agent is subject to normative principles by virtue of being an agent.  Only a constitutivist account of moral motivation provides agents with non-optional reasons for acting. . Katsafanas

Katsafanas, Paul. “Deriving Ethics from Action: A Nietzchean Version of Constitutivism.” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, LLC.  Boston University: 2011.

Enter a third theory, which attempts to do just that: constitutivism. According to constitutivism, there is an element of truth in both the internalist and the externalist positions. For the constitutivist agrees with the internalist that the truth of a normative claim depends on the agent’s aims, in the sense that the [an] agent must possess a certain aim in order for the normative claim to be true. But the constitutivist [constitutivism] traces the authority of norms to an aim that has a special status, an aim that is constitutive of being an agent. This constitutive aim is not optional; if you lack the aim, you are not an agent at all. So the constitutivist agrees with the internalist that practical reasons derive from the agent’s aims; but the constitutivist holds that the relevant aim is one that is intrinsic to being an agent. Accordingly, the constitutivist gets the conclusion that the externalist wanted: there are non-optional reasons for acting. Put differently, there are reasons for action that arise merely from the fact that one is an agent.

Constitutivism establishes a person falls under the concept of agency, that is to be an agent, by submitting to a normative principle.

Agency is inescapable- two warrants. Ferrero

Luca Ferrero, “Constitutivism and the Inescapability of Agency”. Oxford Studies in Metaethics, vol. IV, Jan 12, 2009.(https://pantherfile.uwm.edu/ferrero/www/pubs/ferrero-constitutivism.pdf‎) Professor of Philosophy, University of Wesconsin at Milwaukee. RP 7/21/13

3.1 The initial appeal of the shmagency objection rests on the impression that there is a close analogy between agency and ordinary enterprises. If one can stand outside of chess and question whether there is any reason to play this game, why couldnʼt one stand outside of agency and wonder whether there is any reason to play the agency game? The problem with this suggestion is that the analogy does not hold. Agency is a very special enterprise. Agency is distinctively ʻinescapable.ʼ This is what sets agency apart from all other enterprises and explains why constitutivism is focused on it rather than on any other enterprise. 3.2 Agency is special under two respects. First, agency is the enterprise with the largest jurisdiction.12 All ordinary enterprises fall under it. To engage in any ordinary enterprise is ipso facto to engage in the enterprise of agency. In addition, there are instances of behavior that fall under no other enterprise but agency. First, intentional transitions in and out of particular enterprises might not count as moves within those enterprises, but they are still instances of intentional agency, of bare intentional agency, so to say. Second, agency is the locus where we adjudicate the merits and demerits of participating in any ordinary enterprise. Reasoning whether to participate in a particular enterprise is often conducted outside of that enterprise, even while one is otherwise engaged in it. Practical reflection is a manifestation of full-fledged intentional agency but it does not necessary belong to any other specific enterprise. Once again, it might be an instance of bare intentional agency. In the limiting case, agency is the only enterprise that would still keep a subject busy if she were to attempt a ʻradical re-evaluationʼ of all of her engagements and at least temporarily suspend her participation in all ordinary enterprises.133.3 The second feature that makes agency stand apart from ordinary enterprises is agencyʼs closure. Agency is closed under the operation of reflective rational assessment. As the case of radical re-evaluations shows, ordinary enterprises are never fully closed under reflection. There is always the possibility of reflecting on their justification while standing outside of them. Not so for rational agency. The constitutive features of agency (no matter whether they are conceived as aims, motives, capacities, commitments, etc.) continue to operate even when the agent is assessing whether she is justified in her engagement in agency. One cannot put agency on hold while trying to determine whether agency is justified because this kind of practical reasoning is the exclusive job of intentional agency. This does not mean that agency falls outside of the reach of reflection. But even reflection about agency is a manifestation of agency.14 Agency is not necessarily self-reflective but all instances of reflective assessment, including those directed at agency itself, fall under its jurisdiction; they are conducted in deference to the constitutive standards of agency. This kind of closure is unique to agency. What is at work in reflection is the distinctive operation of intentional agency in its discursive mode. What is at work is not simply the subjectʼs capacity to shape her conduct in response to reasons for action but also her capacity both to ask for these reasons and to give them. Hence, agencyʼs closure under reflective rational assessment is closure under agencyʼs own distinctive operation: Agency is closed under itself.15 3.4 To sum up, agency is special because of two distinctive features. First, agency is not the only game in town, but it is the biggest possible one. In addition to instances of bare intentional agency, any engagement in an ordinary enterprise is ipso facto an engagement in the enterprise of agency. Second, agency is closed under rational reflection. It is closed under the self- directed application of its distinctive discursive operation, the asking for and the giving of reasons for action. The combination of these features is what makes agency inescapable. This is the kind of nonoptionality that supports the viability of constitutivism.

A. Arguments that claim that a principle can be non-normative despite being inescapable presume a weaker form of inescapability, i.e. empirical inescapability, where agency is inescapable by fact or circumstance, but where it’s conceptually possible for an agent to conceive of themselves as being under a different principle. My argument involves a stronger sense of inescapability -- it is conceptually incoherent to think of agency as not falling under the normative principle, i.e. rational inescapability. Ferrero indicates that a person falls under the concept of agency only by submitting to the normative principle. There is no reality of “being an agent” that precedes or is separable from the reality of “submitting to the normative principle.” To be an agent just is to bring oneself under this principle. 

B. My framework best accounts for the ontology of agency because the reality of an agent is on the most basic level characterized by being subject to a normative principle.   
C. Ethical theories grounded on factors contingent to agents being rational willers, like our desires or states of affairs, fail to generate binding principles because said theories rest on principles that can change or that agents could rationally judge as incorrect. Only principles that are derived from the rational will are necessary, and thus binding on agents in general.

The constitutive principle of agency is that agents see themselves as the cause of their own actions—free, or not subject to the domination of another.

1. Since agency just is the ability to act on the basis of thinking of yourself as an agent, to bring oneself under the concept of agency is itself an act of agency; it is the most basic act of agency, as it constitutes you as an agent. And applying the concept of agency cannot rely on successfully applying some further concept, as that further concept application would rely on the applying the concept of agency since intentionally applying any concept is an act of agency, and so on, to infinite regress. So if constitutivism is true, the normative principle that is contained in rational agency can’t be anything other than a principle that comes from the idea of rational willing itself. 

2. Identifying yourself as the cause of your actions is contained in the idea of rational agency. Korsgaard:

CHRISTINE M. KORSGAARD, “SELF-CONSTITUTION IN THE ETHICS OF PLATO AND KANT”. The Journal of Ethics 1999, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 1-29. Specifically, “VII. GOOD ACTION AND THE UNITY OF THE KANTIAN WILL”.  Professor of Philosphy, Harvard University. RP 7/21/1

The first step is this: To conceive yourself as the cause of your actions is to identify with the principle of choice on which you act. A rational will is a self-conscious causality, and a self-conscious causality is aware of itself as a cause. To be aware of yourself as a cause is to identify yourself with something in the scenario that gives rise to the action, and this must be the principle of choice. For instance, suppose you experience a conflict of desire: you have a desire to do both A and B, and they are incompatible. You have some principle which favors A over B, so you exercise this principle, and you choose to do A. In this kind of case, you do not regard yourself as a mere passive spectator to the battle between A and B. You regard the choice as yours, as the product of your own activity, because you regard the principle of choice as expressive, or representative, of yourself. You must do so, for the only alternative to identifying with the principle of choice is regarding the principle of choice as some [a] third thing in you, another force on a par with the incentives to do A and to do B, which happened to throw in its weight in favor of A, in a battle at which you were, after all, a mere passive spectator. But then you are not the cause of the action. Self- conscious or rational agency, then, requires identification with the principle of choice on which you act.

If the constitutive principle of agency is merely agency, then any valid practical judgment must be true of every practical agent and for every agent. Rational agents cannot act on a maxim that hinders the outer freedom of others’ – that is non-universalizable. Engstrom:

Stephen Engstrom , “Universal Legislation As the Form of Practical Knowledge”. (www.philosophie.uni-hd.de/md/philsem//engstrom_vortrag.pdf‎), RP 7/23/13

Given the preceding considerations, it’s a straightforward matter to see how a maxim of action that assaults the freedom of others with a view to furthering one’s own ends results in a contradiction when we attempt to will it as a universal law in accordance with the foregoing account of the formula of universal law. Such a maxim would lie in a practical judgment that deems it good on the whole to act to limit others’ outer freedom, and hence their self-sufficiency, their capacity to realize their ends, where doing so augments, or extends, one’s own outer freedom and so also one’s own self-sufficiency.Now on the interpretation we’ve been entertaining, applying the formula of universal law involves considering whether it’s possible for every person—every subject capable of practical judgment—to share the practical judgment asserting the goodness of every person’s acting according to the maxim in question. Thus in the present case the application of the formula involves considering whether it’s possible for every person to deem good every person’s acting to limit others’ freedom, where practicable, with a view to augmenting their own freedom. Since here all persons are on the one hand deeming good both the limitation of others’ freedom and the extension of their own freedom, while on the other hand, insofar as they agree with the similar judgments of others, also deeming good the limitation of their own freedom and the extension of others’ freedom, they are all deeming good both the extension and the limitation of both their own and others’ freedom. These judgments are inconsistent insofar as the extension of a person’s outer freedom is incompatible with the limitation of that same freedom

States are formed to ensure an equal system of outer freedom, by safeguarding the independence of each person. Independence is a relational dimension of the structural conditions between persons, that a person A is independent relative person B insofar as B cannot make choices for A and deny A’s ability to set ends and choose the means to pursue those ends for themselves. 

Thus the standard is respecting a system of equal and outer freedom. 

Counter examples that show certain states don’t maintain a system of outer freedom do not deny the constitutivist argument above because the implied generality is non-universal. Under my framework, such a state is merely a defective state. For example, it’s constitutive of dogs to have four legs even if some dogs have three.

Prefer the standard:

1. Actor Specificity: countries as collective agents act through reasoning of individual agents. Laurence

Ben Laurence.  Prof. Of Philosophy, University of Chicago.  “An Anscombean Approach to Collective Action” in Ford and Hornsby, Eds. Essays on Anscombe's Intention (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2011) 293-294.

It is enough that the same order displayed in collective action explanation can also be represented as a set of rational transitions justifying the actions undertaken by members of a group in light of a shared objective.  In this way, whether or not there is strictly speaking a unitary knowing subject of the whole action, we can still see the actions in question as recommended by reasoning.  This reasoning will not, of course, occur through the exercise of a separate practical reason possessed by the group, but rather through the reasoning of the individual members as the execute their shared objective.  We might sum this up by saying that just as a collective agent can only act through the actions of its individual members, it can only know through their knowing, and reason through their reasoning.

A. Preempts aggregations frameworks that claim every agent has a differing perspective and values. Reject frameworks that aggregate individual views via polls or emotive response because the idea of the individual view as the most basic unit of collective reasoning is flawed – Laurence indicates that the intentions of individual agents are synthesized into a collective action, involved in the adoption of the perspective of a shared consciousness. 
B. Indicates my framework is mandated by the topic. A supposition of the resolution is an action by developing countries, which is a collective action by states, not individuals because individual agents can’t alter environmental or extractive policy.

2. Contained in the idea of instrumental rationality is that agents have the capacity to secure sufficient means to achieve their ends, irrespective of the particular content of that end. However, agents in willing any end are committed to willing a system of equal outer freedom. Fichte

J.G. Fichte, “Foundations of Natural Right: According to the Principles of the Wissenschaftslehre”. Edited by Frederick Neuhouser, Cornell University. Translated by Michael Baur, Fordham University. Cambridge University Press, 2000. RP 4/25/14

II) Thus, the problem of political right and (according to our proof) of the entire  philosophy of right is to find a will that cannot possibly be other than the common will. Or, in accordance with the formula presented earlier (one that is more in keeping with the course of our investigation), the problem is: to find a will in which the private and the common will are synthetically united.We shall solve this problem in accordance with a strict method. Let us call the will we are seeking X.(a) Every will has itself (in the future) as an object. Everything that wills has self-preservation as its final end. The same goes for X; and so self-preservation would be the private will of X. - Now this private will is supposed to be one with the common will, which wills the security of the rights of all. Therefore, X, just as it wills itself, wills the security of the rights of all.(b) The security of the rights of all is willed only through the harmonious will of all, through the concurrence of their wills. It is only in this regard that all agree; [152] for in all other matters their will is particular and directed to their individual ends. In accordance with our assumption of universal egoism (which the law of coercion presup- poses), no individual, no single part of the commonwealth, makes this an end for himself; rather, only all of them, taken as a whole, do.(c) Thus X would itself be this concurrence of all. This concurrence, as surely as it willed itself would also have to will the security of the rights of all; for it is one and the same as that security.(III) But such concurrence is a mere concept; now it should not remain so, but ought rather to be realized in the sensible world, i.e. it ought to be brought forth in some particular external expression and have effect as a physical force.For us, the only beings in the sensible world that have wills are human beings. Therefore, this concept would have to be realized in and through human beings. This requires:(a) That the will of a certain number of human beings, at some point • time, actually becomes harmonious, and expresses itself or gets declared as such. - The task here is to show that the required oncurrence does not take place of itself, but rather is based on anexpress act of all, an act that takes place in the sensible world and is perceptible at some point in time and is made possible only through free self- determination. Such an act is implied by a proof already presented above. That is, the law of right says only that each person should limit the use of his freedom through the rights of the other, but it does not determine how far and to which objects the rights of each ought to extend. These latter determinations must be expressly declared, and declared in such a way that the declarations of all are harmonious. Each person must have said to all: I want to live in this place, and to possess this or that thing as my own; and all must have responded by saying: yes, you may live here and possess that thing.Our further investigation of this act will yield the first section of the doctrine of political right, on the civil contract [vom Staatsburgervertrage]. [153] (b) That this will be established as the steadfast and enduring will of all, a will that each person - just as certainly as he has expressed this will in the present moment - will recognize as his own so long as he lives in this place. In every previous investigation it was always necessary to assume that such willing for the entire future is present in a single moment, that such willing for all future life occurs all at once.Here, for the first time, this proposition is asserted with justification. Because the present will is established as valid for all time, the   common will that is expressed now becomes law. (c) This common will determines both how far the rights of eachperson ought to extend, in which case the legislation is civil (legislalio civilis); and how a person who violates these rights in one way or another ought to be punished, in which case the legislation is criminal or penal (legislatio criminalis, jus criminale, poenale). Our investigation of this will yield the second section of the doctrine of political right, on legislation.(d) This common will must be equipped with a power — and indeed a superior power, in the face of which any individual's power would be infinitely small - that will enable it to look after itself and its preserva- tion by means of coercive force: the state authority. This authority includes two elements: the right to judge, and the right to execute the judgments it has made {potestas judicialis et potestas executiva in sensu

Individual agents are incapable of securing the means to their antecedently willed ends, because both the empirical world can frustrate securing those means and agents within the world can set themselves in opposition to the ends you have willed. To will one continue to exist independent of a system of outer freedom is a contradiction in willing, because in willing any end you commit yourself to the willing the necessary means to that end. Agents know their attempt to secure sufficient means is external to their control, which leaves them open to contradictions in material insufficiencies to bring about that end. Regardless of what you will, you must will the system of outer freedom because the means under that system alone could the agent know themselves to secure sufficient means to secure their ends. The alternative is pursuing no ends, as it leaves open the question of whether agents have the ability to achieve that end, which is inconsistent with the principle of instrumental reason. That functions independent of and controls the internal link to all other frameworks, because the every moral theory presumes agents desire some outcome or end. 

3. The paradox of self-consciousness. Reason constitutes action, which is to say there is no separation between what an agent is reasoning about and the agent’s action- the reason just is internal to the action. The alternative view is that there’s a distinction between what an agents is thinking about, or the object of their thought and action they take, and the agents thinking. For example, desire based theories hold that the objects ethics theorizes about is distinct from the agents thinking about those objects. An agent could have a desire to reduce pleasure, even if they aren’t thinking about it. That creates the paradox of self consciousness. Pippin

Robert B. Pippin, “Hegel’s Idealism: The Satisfactions of Self-Consciousness”. Department of Philosophy, University of California, San Diego. Cambridge University Press, first published 1989. RP 4/25/14

According to Henrich, any theory that claims that self-consciousness involves some kind of bipolar reflective awareness of a self must founder on two objections. First, the account must be circular. I am supposed to become aware of myself by virtue of directing attention to “me” as an object of consciousness. But if I do that, then, insofar as I know I’m doing it, I am already self-conscious only if I already am. Second, the reflective theory suggests that I identity an object of my awareness as me, as If I have criterion of recognition that I apply in becoming aware of myself. But this begs the question of how I can be said to identify some intentional object as myself in the first place. It assumes (by the postulation of this criterion) that I have already so identified myself and that self-consciousness requires its own explanation. Henrich does not mention other well-known problems [include] with the self-as-object-of-awareness view of self-consciousness, such as Hume’s phenomenological difficult (there is no such object to be found in my experience) or Ryle’s temporal problem (the self I observe would not be me as observing, and so would not be self-consciousness, but the problems he states are certainly enough to cast doubt on what appears to be a common sense interpretation of self-consciousness 
Thus the object of thinking, or action, and the agent’s thinking become separated and cannot be put back together. The solution to the paradoxes is the system of outer freedom 

Agents thus can only identify themselves by distinguishing themselves from something else. The Pippin evidence indicates agents account for identity by looking only to themselves, so agents must relate themselves to something else, called a not I. Wood

Allen W. Wood, "Fichte's Philosophy of Right and Ethics," forthcoming in Günter Zöller (ed). The Cambridge Companion to Fichte. New York: Cambridge University Press. RP 4/25/14

In reflecting on itself, the I forms a concept of itself (GA I/4:213, I/3:329).  Every act of conceptualization involves distinguishing the item brought under a given concept from those excluded from it. Therefore, reflective self-awareness involves the I's self-limitation: the I must distinguish itself from what it is not. From this Fichte infers that the very possibility of the I requires its limitation by a "not-I": "The following is implicit in our principle: The I posits itself as limited by the not-I" (GA I/2:285, SK 122). To posit the I is at the same time to "counterposit" a not I (GA I/2:268, SK 105; I/3:330). This means that the activity of the I must be twofold: that of the I, directed toward a not-I and that of a not-I, directed back against the I as a "collision" or "check" (Anstoss) of the I's activity (GA I/2:354-362, SK 189-196). Since both are conditions of the I's existence, Fichte regards both as activities of the I: the former is "ideal" activity, the latter "real" activity (GA I/2:402-404. SK 236-238).  Limits on demands? I think?

However that leaves agents vulnerable to denial by the not-I. If I identify through you, but the agent denies that identity, that means your identification of yourself through me is merely a projection onto the world. You need to affirm your identity through me, which commits agents to mutual recognition. Wood 2

To understand another as a rational being making such a demand, and to display such understanding in action is to "recognize" (anerkennen) the other (GA I/3:353).  Since every free being necessarily wills to make use of its freedom, the basic demand I necessarily make on every other free being is that it should limit its action in such a way that I am allowed a sphere for the exercise of my freedom (GA I/3:357-358).  Fichte argues that for this reason I must assume that others will recognize me, but since I cannot expect others to do so unless I treat them as rational beings, I am bound by mere logical consistency (and prior to any moral requirement) to recognize all others and treat them accordingly (GA I/3:349-356). Recognition must be presupposed as the condition of all interactions between free beings, and it must be presupposed as a reciprocal relation, which Fichte calls the "relation of right". It grounds the "principle of right": "I must in all cases recognize the free being outside me as such, i.e. limit my freedom through the concept of the possibility of its freedom" (GA I/3:358).    By the principle of right each free being is to have an external sphere for the exercise of its freedom, and others are to limit their freedom accordingly.  This external sphere begins at the point of origin of one's action on the external world itself. We have seen that the I must be limited by a not-I. Fichte interprets as saying that the I and an external, material world must exercise a mutual causal influence on one another.  But since only matter can act on matter, the I too must be matter – or at least it must have a material vehicle for its relations of activity and passivity to the not-I. To be an I therefore, one must be embodied, and the starting point of the external sphere recognized by others must be its body 

Since the state is not an I in the sense humans are, its obligation is to allows individuals the sphere’s of freedom to understand this demand, which is the system of outer freedom.

Impact calc:

1. Even if affirming the resolution is non-universalizable for a reason other than its being a violation of outer freedom, a violation of outer freedom comes first because self-sufficiency is necessary both to will a maxim in the first place and for your action to be unified—in willing any end, you hold yourself to be capable of bringing about the end, so you necessarily will that you be able to pursue it free from others’ choice.  Thus, reject maxims that conflict with self-sufficiency. 

2. Intended harms outweigh foreseen harms:Intending a harm involves willing the necessary means to bring about that harm, but foreseeing a harm at most implies indifference about whether the harm occurs, as the occurrence of the harm is not part of your intention. So intended harms are worse than merely foreseen harms because to make a harm necessary is worse than to make it merely possible. Also means foreseen harms are no one’s ground because they can be solved by extra-resolutional action – unlike intended harms, they are not made necessary by affirming or negating.

[This framework originally and generously contributed by La Jolla RP.]