This will be our reading for July 22. You can find the details at our Meetup page.
1. The previous chapter argued that freedom is fundamentally the capacity to “give oneself the law,” to legislate norms and bind ourselves to them. This self-legislation is not the ratification of passing desires or opinions, some sort of pure subjectivism, but a strange combination of self-creation and self-limitation. These self-created norms create and sustain social roles and reasons which we can use to justify or criticize behaviour. We looked at two different models of self-legislation: Kant’s deductive model, which begins with the generic, ahistorical individual, and Hegel’s historical/developmental model, which begins with actually-existing groups.
2. For both Kant and Hegel, a key motivating factor in ethical behaviour is respect for the life-leading capacity of humans, which eventually cashes out in the claim that all value depends on recognizing the value of humanity as an ultimate moral identity. As Korsgaard says, “A good soldier obeys orders, but a good human being does not massacre the innocent.” Pippin thinks the Kantian framework cannot establish this value of humanity, but the Hegelian one can.
3. This self-legislation is not only about practical norms, but cognitive norms as well; all of this is attached to a much larger account of rationality in general. Chapter 4 is about Hegel’s account of concept-formation, and is relevant here because it helps respond to a common criticism of Hegel: that he is an anti-individualist authoritarian.