Kant’s Autonomy in relation to Drug Use

Kant’s Autonomy in relation to Drug Use

Kant’s Autonomy in relation to Drug Use Assignment – Morality and ethics are like a reflection of what we believe where moral laws and tend to refine or improve what we believe in. In most societies, justifying the need to limit the use of drugs is always controversial as some people are of the view that they should be left to choose what is good for their bodies and what is not (Smith, 2002). Therefore, the legalization of drugs in some societies has been mandated on the grounds of helping people achieve their autonomy or exercise liberty.

However, there are always consequences associated with engaging in drug-taking activities where it is noted that drugs directly affect the self while indirectly impacting society (Altman, 2011). Therefore, the arguments for regulating the intake of drugs is centered around the consequences of taking drugs and the intentions to take drugs as well as the autonomy of the human being.  This brings the need to ask questions, is it right to regulate the use of drugs? Does an individual’s ability to choose limited through legislation, is this enslavement?

According to Kant, the individual or a person has a certain dignity that requires an individual’s respect. Kant notes that the reason showing why people are sacred stems from the idea that we are rational humans who can use logic (Altman, 2011). Kant also notes that human beings are autonomous beings meaning that one can act and choose freely. In this case, autonomy focuses on an individual’s ability to govern the self.

This school of through is therefore based on the ability to focus on the self as a way of determining what is moral and immoral instead of being influenced by the injunctions of other people (Kant’s Moral Philosophy (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy), 2016). This, therefore, entails self-governance where an individual looks the self and hence pursuing the course of action that benefits the self despite the moral beliefs and norms revolving around the choice.

Further to that, according to Kant, an individual’s autonomy is compromised when the individual cannot make a decision individually. This is when an external body or external factors influence them may fail to be autonomous since the true self does not exist at this moment (Altman, 2011). For example, a child may have the inability to be autonomous as well as the disabled people or an oppressed individual as they may be having the inability to become autonomous.

This, therefore, presents autonomy as the ability to be fully aware of having authority over individual actions. Kant, therefore, calls upon the need to let the individual free will be the major guiding principle towards decision making rather than letting the socially developed principles and or laws and hence determining what is moral (Kant’s Moral Philosophy (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy), 2016).

In this case, people should be guided by the maxims which they choose to abide by where such maxims can be regarded as universal by any being. Kant further notes that our emotions and subscriptions are external to the development of the will and therefore, they should not play a role in determining the ability to self-regulate (Altman, 2011).

Kant’s Autonomy
Kant’s Autonomy

In other words, Kant means that our feelings, habits, the emotions that we develop do not contribute towards the achievement of autonomy are they are seen as external. However, it is important to note that the idea of free will and making personal choices does not entail being governed by no laws, but is focuses on being governed by the laws that are developed by the self. In this case, the concept of autonomy works beyond being manipulated or manipulating other beings for the sake of our good (Smith, 2002). This, therefore, means that deception and lying are not okay since if I’m being deceived or manipulated, I cannot make an autonomous decision since the decision was based on false information.

Therefore, when it comes to the issue of drug use in relation to Kant’s arguments, it can be noted that if the decision to take drugs is personal and not influenced by other external factors, it can be considered as moral by the individual (Smith, 2002). The model by Kant promotes the idea that human beings have the right to do what they deem right to themselves provided that other factors do not influence it and it does not affect other people. in fact, people with freewill have the right to undertake what they need for their bodies including engagement in drug-taking provided that it is what makes them happy. Engaging in drug-taking can be likened to engaging in sports for one’s benefit (Altman, 2011).

However, engaging in drugs because you saw another individual looking good or because you heard that taking drugs gives you a good feeling may fail to be autonomous since your decision was influenced by the arguments of others (Smith, 2002). For the person taking drugs to benefits themselves or as per their own decision can be regarded as autonomous.

Therefore, the decision to both reject and or use drugs as long as it emanates from the self can be noted as autonomous — Kant’s theory given individual liberty to determine their maxim. Therefore, if you define your maxim, you get the ability to decide what is right or wrong. We also need to ask ourselves if we are doing something for our purposes, and if the answer to this is yes, then we are doing the wrong or rather an immoral thing (Altman, 2011). This is, therefore, majorly based on the issue of consent, where if an individual is aware of all the good and bad consequences of taking drugs, but they choose the standard or the maxim within which they wish to govern their lives.

Kant’s argument on autonomy focuses on people setting their standards and determining their fate, therefore, reducing an individual’s ability to choose what is right for them to hinders their autonomy. Despite the negative consequences of drug-taking, as long as I decide self-harm, then it’s okay. This, therefore, gives one the ability to discipline themselves and do whatever they want no matter the consequences. However, we should always take into consideration the maxim or the principle within which we act upon; this is by considering whether we would want to lie to be universally accepted (Smith, 2002).

The argument focuses majorly on the intentions of the individual rather than the consequences. In this case, if the intentions to take drugs was to satisfy the self-nourishment, then the decision can be determined as moral. The consequences, which include causing social disruptions or self-harm, in this case, are not taken into consideration. Kant notes that rationality and autonomy also entail the duty to make choices to harm oneself or choose death (Finnis, 1987).

Kant’s idea is much contested due to its focus on the concept of free will in some of the areas of an individual’s life.  Notably, when an individual’s actions are truly theirs, they should, therefore, not be forced by any external force, and in our lives, there are clear examples of various situations that are not autonomous (Smith, 2002). This is due to being governed by cultural laws and norms that influence the human to act in a given way, which, if let to make your own decision, you would choose to do it. Therefore, since the decision is influenced by an external factor such as a law, they fail to meet the conditions of being an autonomous decision.

That said, being compelled to make choices that do not resonate with our own beliefs and views would be enslavement. This would mean being forced to live as per another individual’s preferences, which would be unacceptable to people with different views about the use of drugs (Finnis, 1987).  Therefore, people with different drug preferences cannot agree on whether it is right or wrong to use drugs.

Kant’s Autonomy and Society

Therefore, according to Kant, any time we choose to do something, we are always influenced by our desire, and therefore there is a need to govern oneself without any external interference (Smith, 2002).  In this case, society cannot make decisions for an individual as people can define their standards. Governing the use of drugs would, therefore, be enslaving the people, and therefore Kant would not support the need to set government policies to regulate the use of drugs as it interferes with an individual’s autonomy (Finnis, 1987).

This is because any action that is conducted without being influenced externally had its moral worth, not because of its purpose but according to the maxim developed by the individual. Therefore, personal intentions or needs should not be weighed against the needs of the public since something good for me might be bad for the bigger population.

In conclusion, the argument concerning the need to regulate the use of drugs is a controversial one where people take different stands as per the philosophical argument they subscribe to. Looking into the consequences of drug use, it would only be good if the government uses its power to regulate the use of drugs to protect and keep safe the general population.

However, there is a need to consider the needs of the users and the ability for an individual to make personal decisions. Kant notes that there is a need to let the individual free will be the major guiding principle towards decision making rather than letting the socially developed principles and or laws and hence determining what is moral. In this case, an individual should not be forced to make decisions that do not resonate with our own beliefs.


Altman, M. C. (2011). Kant and applied ethics: The uses and limits of Kant’s practical philosophy. John Wiley & Sons.

Finnis, J. M. (1987). Legal enforcement of duties to oneself: Kant vs. neo-Kantians. Colum. L. Rev., 87, 433.

Kant’s Moral Philosophy (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). (2016).

Smith, P. (2002). Drugs, morality and the law. Journal of Applied Philosophy19(3), 233-244.

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Merleau-Ponty’s Work Philosophy of Perception

This philosophical essay intends to identify and explore the key features of Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s approach to the question of perception in “Phenomenology of Perception” by him and discusses the problems or weaknesses if there are any. This philosophy essay expresses argued position on a subject. It presents consideration to be good reasons for the claims that are made and the views defended in this literary piece of work. Furthermore, the essay intends to clearly, distinguishes the philosophical problems addressed in it, and strictly sticks to the reflections upon the issues that are raised by this topic. In order to clarify and develop a point to examine more precisely the common background in the theory of perception in Merleau-Ponty’s work the essay discusses views of others who also have written on the topic (perception).


“Phenomenology of Perception” (1945) is the major work of philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty, one of the founders of phenomenology. The author criticized in this book design Cartesian mentalist and the language, which would make the simple words representations of concepts mentally or objects outside (Merleau-Ponty, 2004, pp.01-589).

Perception is a faculty biophysical or phenomenon physio-sychological and cultural links to the action of living worlds and the environment through the senses and ideologies individual or collective. In humans, perception is also related to the mechanisms of cognition by the abstraction inherent in the idea and concepts learned in thought. The word therefore means perception or sensory ability (the instinct for example), is the process of collecting and processing the information or sensitive sensory (in cognitive psychology, for example), or awareness resulting. In experimental psychology, in the human being, there are scales of perception conscious perception and unconscious, also known as implicit or subliminal (Baldwin, 2007, 33-41). This distinction has been extended to other animals insofar as it is known, or in another measure, can be trained and conditioned to give or not they have received or not a stimulus. The perception of a situation involves senses, the mind, and the ideas at the moment and time.

Fortunately, a close analysis of the overlap between “Phenomenology of Perception” by Merleau-Ponty not only allows us to understand the benefit of hindsight but also to assess the consistency of the analysis of perception. In “Phenomenology of Perception”, Merleau-Ponty (1962, pp.01-589) develops more fully theories of perception, he tries to describe our first experience of living and the world as it is given before any interpretation and scientific knowledge.

Author rejects both empiricism to its choice of atomization and failures to report in general terms of structural models of our experience and rationalism (01-589). Because it separates conscience of the world and proposes an existential perspective that can establish dialectical relationship between the subject and the world, it recognizes the nature of consciousness, mainly due to the situation and the life of the body. Consciousness is consciousness of something and is directed toward the world. “Phenomenology of Perception” “goes further by seeking to discover intentionality operative or pre-reflexive links and predicative that underlie our existence in the world. The first examination of the relationship between man and intentional and the world is through reductions phenomenological method and the first is to put all preconceived outstanding about reality and the natural attitude of everyday life that is “bracketed” and examined in a philosophical or transcendental perspective for understanding the essential dialogue between consciousness and the world.

The precise description of pre-reflective experiences, such as especial articulation, movement, time perception, sensation and sexuality, are one approach. The analysis of pathological cases in which the normal conditions of being in the world are suspended and intentionality weakened and it allows further research. Correspondingly, the human mind has not a pure perceptual function. It is inseparable from the physical data that put thoughts into motion, thus this is the novel form, and more concretely in a modern world, it introduces relativity, which can best grasp this entry in a situation. In short, as the work of Merleau-Ponty keep a referential dimension intrinsic, it is characterized by an effort unrewarding to realism but by the manner of reporting a particular phenomenological point of view (Merleau-Ponty, 1962, pp. 01-589).

Perception is what gives the material concept of the understanding, the “union” forming the sensible object. Perception is reality, which is external, and it is not even given in perception. This perception is a sensation that applies to an object general and not to a specific object. In this sense, the “perceptual judgment” remains purely subjective, opposes “judgment of experience” that is subject to the conditions of necessity and universality. If perception is subjective, so you do not consider as true or as false as it is the understanding that one is able to make a judgment that will have a truth value. When we speak of illusion or appearance is therefore refers not to despise but to perceptions of the mind that makes the mistake of taking subjective mode of representation, perception, an objective mode. The perception, whether sharp or not, shows the registration of rights in a “horizon” which cannot escape, in a space where it is enclosed. The view is thus limited to a certain distance, as well as hearing and touch has their own limitations.

Merleau-Ponty Philosophy
Merleau-Ponty Philosophy

Perception is always wrong because it is too human. Until then, it had always been regarded either as an image or as a sign of external things. In all cases, it was thought as a representation of the thing. I believe that the perception gives something “in the flesh” in his bodily presence unlike the experiences of consciousness (e.g., imagination) that represent things missing. This design is based on the intentionality of consciousness shows that it is by no means a receptacle containing a set of images, but acts of sight. For example, the perception of a cube has nothing to do with the imagination of the same cube, as it is a case of the other “targeted” different kind though their object is the same. Perception is never isolated. We have a perceptual field in which ordered a series of perceptions, what is called perceptual sketches that complement each other in building activity of the meaning of things (Webster, Werner & Field, 2005, pp.241–277).

Based on the reflections of Husserl, Merleau-Ponty (1962, pp.01-589) seeks to demonstrate the first perception. This, he says, is by no means the result of an arrangement of sensations but rather an activity of s open to the world of life. He wants to show that the distinction Husserl between the act of sight and the target object is not primitive and that below it there is a reciprocal implication of subject and object. The experience of perception is the location of this co-belonging of consciousness and the world and that is why perception is a primary experience and precedes speech (301-315).

The suspension of classes and hierarchies that we submit our impressions are often accompanied by a relaxation of the functional perspective on individual objects of our world and a higher prevalence of incongruous detail in the perception of our environment. Such a bet is pending is seen more strongly in times of crisis, when the loss of conscious control over the body and the environment produces a hypersensitivity impressions we reflect normally as trivial and irrelevant. It draws our attention to the operation of pre-reflective and overwhelming our senses, independent of an individual’s personal trauma (LaRock, 2002, pp.231–258).

If knowledge was based entirely on the sensation then it should share the properties of the latter. However, the sensation is a snapshot, not a state but an event that remains vanishes (Merleau-Ponty, 2004, pp.88-136). Sensation is more “mobile” unstable and always singular, it is the result of the encounter between an external object and the ability of sensitive man; meeting takes a different form each time. Thus, knowledge is nothing more than a cluster of sensations that it would be impossible to organize because its elements are incomparable with each other. It is in this sense that we must break away from sense perception to reach true knowledge (Casarett, 1999, pp.125–139).

I agree that sensation is equal to knowledge but it seeks to demonstrate the utility value it for life. For life, it does not mean only that of man but that of any organization. Sensation and movement are the two properties shared by all living beings. The feeling gives access to the outside world and its changes and allows the body to adapt to it and thus to ensure its own survival. Merleau-Ponty (1962, pp. 01-589) gives rise to a true science of sensitive, distinguishing the “sensitive clean” which refers to one of the five senses and not others, and “common sensible” seized all the senses (e.g. movement). He hangs up the existence of a sixth sense, “common sense” that allows the unification of sensitive data from the various sensory organs. In a way, we can say that sensation becomes a real object of knowledge even if it is still not the subject in the sense that it would be knowledge.

I believe sensation is not a reliable source of knowledge. For this, I use the famous example of the “piece of wax.” Initially it presents a set of sensible qualities: it is hard, cold, smells of flowers makes a particular sound when hit etc… Suppose we approach this piece of wax fire, then all of these qualities disappear and replaced by others. However, it does not say much for this thing, which is come before me, is something that I perceived the wax before. This is the same wax that before and after exposure is to fire so this is not what I perceived with the senses that can explain what the wax. However, the imagination, which conceives of something changes, cannot do more because these variations are endless. Only the mind can. Thus, I come to consider the perception rather than as a “vision” but as “an inspection of the mind.” Perception is an act of intellection, producing an idea that can be “imperfect and confused” or “clear and distinct”. In the latter case, there is identification of perception and truth. It is found again in the early 20th century with Alain, which makes perception a “function of understanding.”

The problem of perception has been a central concern of classical philosophy about the origin of knowledge, as evidenced by the famous “Molyneux problem” that looks like this: Suppose a man born blind who has been learned to distinguish by touch a cube and a sphere of the same metal and of equivalent size, find the sense of sight. However, it is noted that the response was generally negative (Webster, Werner & Field, 2005, pp.241–277). Note further that the issue was the assessment of the powers of the senses of sight, often seen as primordial sense, compared to the other senses. The outside world is a construction from sense impressions. One thing, it is the meeting by intelligence, various sensations under the same name, so there is nothing that exists outside of what is perceived. Somehow, the chair I am sitting over there as soon as I left the room. This doctrine is called immaterialism (Casarett, 1999, pp.125–139).

We can also mention the skeptics who do not have little involvement in the devaluation of “knowledge” sensitive. Indeed, a compiled list of cases demonstrates that the perception is sometimes an illusion, an error and in that sense, we should not be proud. Let two of their examples: a square tower we look from a distant point seems round, and a stick dipped in part in water seems twisted (LaRock, 2002, pp.231–258). The list of examples, however, does not answer the question of whether these errors are due to a perception that is itself misleading or judgment that accompanies it. Note finally that the Epicurean Lucretius says it is impossible to demonstrate that the senses deceive us and more importantly, the state would condemn this reason (LaRock, 2002, pp.231–258).

The feeling does not correspond to the coincidence between the subject and the feeling quality (e.g. red) collected. Consciousness is perceptual consciousness. On the contrary, the feeling is embodied in a “horizon of meaning” and is from the perceived meaning that there may be associations with similar experiences (and not vice versa). Printing cannot “wake others”: the perception is not made ​​of sensitive data supplemented by a “projection of memories “in effect, seek to memories presupposes precisely that sensitive data will be formatted and have acquired a sense, then that is what meaning the “projection of memories” was supposed to return (Casarett, 1999, pp.125–139).

Merleau-Ponty (1962, pp. 101-622) explicitly rejects then design Cartesian or mentalist language, which would make the simple phrase of representations mental. The words are not, for him, a reflection of the thought: “the word is not the” sign “of thought”. It cannot be severed from the speech and thought: both are “wrapped in one another, meaning is made ​​in the word and the word is the existence of external sign. He focuses on a conception of the word and the word, which does not reduce to simple signs of thought or the external object, but become the presence of this idea in the sensible world, not the garment (22). He discovered in the conceptual meaning of words an existential meaning emotional (33).

The expression does not that translate well meaning, but realizes or actualizes. The language implies an activity first intentional, which passes through the body itself. Thought is nothing inside; it does not exist outside the world and out of words. There is therefore no thought precedes speech thought is already language (“this inner life is an inner language”) and the language is already thinking.


This philosophy essay explored the key features of Merleau-Ponty’s approach to the question of perception in Phenomenology of Perception problems or weaknesses in of the topic and it found that the body is not a potential object of study for science and an inherence of consciousness and body with the analysis of perception must consider. The primacy of perception signifies a primacy of experience, insofar as perception assumes an active constituent. Maurice Merleau-Ponty analyzes the notion of sensation, despite apparent evidence in the natural attitude and rejects the notion of pure sensation. He then refutes and prejudices the objective world because the perception is rooted in subjectivity that actually produces the indeterminate and confusion. We can conclude with following words that psychology has failed to define the sensation, but the physiology has not been more capable, as the problem of “objective world” arises again and enters in contradiction with the experience to understand what it means to “feel”, we must return to the pre-objective internal experience.


Casarett, D.J., 1999 Moral perception and the pursuit of medical philosophy. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics, 20(2), pp.125–139

LaRock, E.F., 2002 Against the Functionalist Reading of Aristotle’s Philosophy of Perception and Emotion. International Philosophical Quarterly, 42(2), pp.231–258

Merleau-Ponty, M., 2004 The World of Perception O. Davis, ed., Routledge

Merleau-Ponty, M., 1962 The Phenomenology of Perception, Routledge

Webster, M.A., Werner, J.S. & Field, D.J., 2005 Adaptation and the phenomenology of perception. In C. Clifford & G. Rhodes, eds. Fitting the Mind to the World Adaptation and Aftereffects in High-level Vision Advances in Visual Cognition. Oxford University Press, pp.241–277

Baldwin, T., 2007 Reading Merleau-Ponty : on Phenomenology of perception, Routledge

Maurice Merleau-Ponty Wiki Page