Kant on manipulation and personal autonomy



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Tartu Ülikool


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.



manipulation, empirical psychology, anthropology, Immanuel Kant