Annals of Ethics
Online ISSN : 2434-4699
Freedom and bodies in the socialization of Kantian ethics
With reference to Sen’s critique of Rawls
Yousuke Mitsuke
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2017 Volume 66 Pages 85-


This paper investigates Rawls’s program of socializing Kant’s ethics developed in his theory of justice and ascertains the limitations of its will-oriented approach to freedom by focusing on the difference between Rawls’s and Sen’s interpretation of freedom. In addition, this paper thereby evaluates the significance of Sen’s critique of Rawls’s theory of justice.
  Rawls socializes Kant’s ethics by transforming Kant’s concept of the categorical imperative into intersubjective procedures in the original position. However, he inherits Kant’s concept of transcendental freedom without making any changes to it; in other words, the “inner freedom” that solely determines a rational being’s will and has no commitment to the physical process to achieve the will. Sen criticizes this interpretation of freedom as being based on a fetishism of goods, introducing the idea of capability to compensate for this lacuna in Rawls’s theory of justice. One feature of Sen’s interpretation of freedom is found in the theoretical accent that he places on the practical aspect of freedom; in other words, the freedom to achieve, which varies according to the diversity of people’s “utilization functions” converting goods into effective functions.
  Despite this criticism of the Kantian concept of freedom, Sen’s idea can also be seen as being based on Kant’s philosophy. In his Critique of Judgement, Kant attempts to bridge the gulf between freedom and nature(the physical world)derived from his own transcendental conception. We direct our attention particularly to Kant’s argument about rational being’s aptitude(Tauglichkeit)to have a purpose and achieve it because the argument shows a possible correspondence between Kant’s concept of culture and Sen’s concept of development concerning the practical aspect of freedom.
  On the basis of these arguments, we can understand the limitations of the will-oriented approach to freedom indicated in Rawls’s theory of justice and the significance of Sen’s critique, which not only clarifies such limitations but also proposes another possible way to inherit Kant’s philosophy of freedom.

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© 2017 The Japanese Society for Ethics
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