Kant on Hobbes, peace, and obedience

History of European Ideas 30 (3):315-328 (2004)
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Kant's essay ‘On the common saying: “This may be true in theory, but it does not apply in practice”’ contains a chapter ‘On the relationship of theory to practice in political right’ to which he added, in brackets, ‘’. The problem is that Kant leaves his Hobbes-criticism implicit. The main point seems to be the Hobbes's citizens are without any rights. We explore the differences and similarities between Kant's and Hobbes's political views and evaluate the effectiveness of Kant's criticism. We pay attention to Nominalism and Platonism, the idea of happiness in social life, the use and role of the Golden Rule in political thought, the quest for freedom, and the principle of political non-resistance. Especially freedom of speech is important for Kant as an Enlightenment thinker. This is the only right Kant's citizens may have, independently of the sovereign's will. Our conclusion is that both Kant and Hobbes emphasize peace and order under sovereign power although they do not agree on how such an ideal can be achieved



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