AUTONOMY (αὐτὸς νόμος, itself a law).—Autonomy of the will is Kant's phrase for
the doctrine that the human will is a law unto itself, or carries its guiding
principle within itself. "Autonomy of Will is that quality of Will by which a Will
(independently of an object willed) is a law to itself" (Metaphysics of Ethics, Semple, 3rd ed., p. 55; Kant's
Theory of Ethics, Abbot, 3rd ed., p. 59).
Bearing on this, Kant's leading positions are these:— "Reason is given to man
as the governor of his Will, by its sway to constitute it altogether good"
(Semple, 5); the notion Duty comprehends under it "that of a good Will,
considered, however, as affected by certain inward hindrances" (7); Duty is the
necessity of an act out of reverence felt for law" (11); the formula of "ideal legality" is this—"Act from a maxim at all times fit for law universal"
(13); "ethical ideas have their origin and seat altogether à priori in the
Reason" (23); an intelligent being "alone has the prerogative of acting
according to the representation of laws, i.e., according to principle, or has a
Will" (25); "freedom of will is autonomy, i.e., that property of will by which
it determines its own causality, and gives itself its own law" (58); "reason
must have a causality of its own, adapted for determining the sensory according
to its own principles " (74).