Southern Journal of Philosophy 36 (S1):161-187 (1997)
In contrast to his own "freestanding" liberalism, Rawls has characterized the liberalism of Kant's Rechtslehre as comprehensive, i.e., as dependent on Kant's teachings about good will and ethical autonomy or on his transcendental idealism. This characterization is not borne out by the text. Though Kant is indeed eager to show that his liberalism is entailed by his wider philosophical worldview, he is not committed to the converse, does not hold that his liberalism presupposes either his moral philosophy or his transcendental idealism. Rather, Kant bases the establishment and maintenance of Recht solely on persons' fundamental a priori interest in external freedom. His liberalism is then, if anything, more freestanding than Rawls's, central elements of which-such as his postulate of certain moral powers with corresponding higher-order interests-are justified by appeal to fundamental ideas he finds to be prevalent in the public culture of his society.
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