Kant on manipulation and personal autonomy
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In my thesis, I argue (1) that Kant’s pragmatical anthropology and empirical psychology can provide us with an explanation why people are susceptible to manipulation. I show that people’s susceptibility to manipulation can be explained by some defects in cognition and volition, namely prejudices, passions and affects. From a Kantian perspective, the manipulative techniques are efficient because they are essentially interwoven with the underlying principles of social order. I also argue (2) that Kant’s maxims of common understanding can help us to partially protect ourselves from the deteriorating effects of manipulation by establishing personal autonomy. I show that the adoption of the maxims of common understanding involves a very sophisticated thought experiment which helps us fight with prejudices and calm our affects and passions. My project can be summed up as the reconstruction of Kant’s theory of manipulation.