Judging Human Action: Arendt's Appropriation of Kant

Review of Metaphysics 37 (4):725 - 755 (1984)
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WITHIN the current discussion of political theory one of the most prominent voices remains that of Hannah Arendt. Her principal work, The Human Condition, attempts to revive a classical Aristotelian view of human action and politics. Recently we have been posthumously provided with her provocative reconstruction of Kant's political philosophy. Her concern with Kant is none other than to urge Kant as the basis for a revival of an appropriate political theory. Because I am largely sympathetic with what Arendt would have an adequate political theory provide, I contest the appropriateness of Kant for such a purpose. I do not reject Kant out of hand, as for example Alasdair MacIntyre recently did in After Virtue. Nor do I accept, as will be apparent below, his rather standard criticisms of Kant. Yet Arendt gives us the wrong reasons to turn to Kant.



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