Public Reason: Vol. 1, No. 2, June 2009
Enlightenment and Constraints
Joseph D. Lewandowski

Drawing on recent work in social philosophy and rational choice theory, in this paper I argue that the core thematic of Kant’s “What is Enlightenment?” is the relationship between reason and constraints. I discuss in some detail Kant’s definition of and distinction between private and public uses of reason. Most generally, I maintain that while Kant’s sense of the private use of reason is too narrowly conceived, his cosmopolitan notion of the public use of reason is far too broad. As a more robust alternative, I propose an account of constitutive constraints and characterize more fully what it means for individuals to make reflexive use of reason vis-à-vis such constraints.

Key words: constraints, Enlightenment, freedom, reason, reflexivity.


Lewandowski, Joseph D. Enlightenment and Constraints. Public Reason 1 (2): 1-12.