Reckoning With Kant on Race

Philosophical Forum 51 (3):221-245 (2020)
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This essay develops Kant’s theory of reform to theorize racial justice reform. I assess the function of Kant’s philosophy of race as part of his nonideal theory of justice, which offers a racist pragmatic anthropology that uses the concept of race to determine the practical effectiveness of legislative reason. His philosophy of race defends a teleological account of the natural history of the human species to fulfill the requirements of justice and assumes that certain racial groups have failed to develop their innate capacity for legislative reason. I show that we need an alternative Kantian nonideal theory of justice that demonstrates how legislative reason actualizes practical freedom. Rather than appeal to anthropology, I expand Kant’s model of public reason to advance racial justice reform under the conditions of partial compliance to the requirements of justice in a profoundly nonideal republic such as the U.S. I then showcase the promise—and limits—of the a priori ideals of citizenship and publicity for racial justice reform and introduce the ideal of interracial civic fellowship to guide the public use of reason in nonideal circumstances.

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Author's Profile

Elvira Basevich
University of California, Davis

References found in this work

Kantian Patriotism.Pauline Kleingeld - 2000 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 29 (4):313-341.

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