To Kant, the French revolution's central events were the transfer of sovereignty to the people in 1789 and the trial and execution of the monarch in 1792-1793. Through a contextual study, this Element argues that while both events manifested the principle of popular sovereignty, the first did so in lawful ways, whereas the latter was a perversion of the principle. Kant was convinced that historical examples can help us understand political philosophy, and this Element seeks to show this in practice.
An introduction to the political philosophy of Kant, exploring how he developed his views in a context shaped by controversies following the French revolution. It provides new information on his followers and critics as they engaged in high stakes political debates on freedom's relation to the state at this key turning point in history.
When Kant in 1793 rejected a right of revolution, he was immediately criticized by a group of radical followers who argued that he had betrayed his own principles of justice. Jakob, Erhard, Fichte, Bergk and Schlegel proceeded to defend a right of resistance and revolution based on what they took to be his true principles. I argue that we must understand Kant's Metaphysics of Morals, which came in 1797, partly as a response to these radical democratic writings. Exploring this forgotten (...) controversy reveals that Kant did not betray his own principles when he denied a right of revolution, because he did not mean that persons have an unconditional duty to obey. This becomes clear when we read the final developments of Kant's thinking on individual liberty and republican government in light of the radical critique. (shrink)
In recent years, political philosophers have debated whether human rights are a special class of moral rights we all possess simply by virtue of our common humanity and which are universal in time and space, or whether they are essentially modern political constructs defined by the role they play in an international legal-political practice that regulates the relationship between the governments of sovereign states and their citizens. This edited volume sets out to further this debate and move it ahead by (...) rethinking some of its fundamental premises and by applying it to new and challenging domains, such as socio-economic rights, indigenous rights, the rights of immigrants and the human rights responsibilities of corporations. Beyond the philosophy of human rights, the book has a broader relevance by contributing to key themes in the methodology of political philosophy and by addressing urgent issues in contemporary global policy making. (shrink)
Democratic theorists are usually dismissive about the idea that citizens act “through” their representatives and often hold persons to exercise true political agency only at intervals in elections. Yet, if we want to understand representative government as a proper form of democracy and not just a periodical selection of elites, continuous popular agency must be a feature of representation. This article explores the Kantian attempt to justify that people can act “through” representatives. I call this the “exercise view” of representation (...) and defend its superiority to the “opportunity view,” which I attribute to Locke. It is superior because it has a robust conception of rationality and collective action, allowing us to understand how representation can mediate public reason. (shrink)
"The growing interest in human rights has recently brought the question of their philosophical foundation to the foreground. Theorists of human rights often assume that their ideal can be traced to the philosophy of Immanuel Kant and his view of humans as ends in themselves. Yet, few have attempted to explore exactly how human rights should be understood in a Kantian framework. The scholars in this have gathered to fill this gap. Divided in three parts, firstly the Kantian notion of (...) human rights is explored, with particular emphasis on how it applies to levels of government beyond the state. The second part explores the scope of human rights, including the contentious questions of whether it includes welfare rights and freedom of speech across borders. The topic of the final section is human rights institutions, with a special focus on the legitimacy of international human rights courts. Human rights have become a force to reckon with in international politics. This book, written by an international team of specialists on Kant and human rights, contributes to understanding a major political development of our times"--. (shrink)
This article explores the writings of Ludwig Heinrich Jakob and Johann Benjamin Erhard, two young Kantians who produced original defences of resistance and revolution during the 1790's. Comparing these two neglected philosophers reveals a crucial divergence in the liberal theory of revolution between a perspective that emphasises resistance by the individual and another that emphasises revolution by the nation. The article seeks to contribute to a more nuanced view of the political theory of the German Enlightenment, which has often been (...) presented as excessively obedient to authority.The historian Charles Ingrao repeated a common perception when, in an article on enlightened absolutism, he speculated that, ‘the German's greater acceptance of authority both then and now may be rooted in their own distinctive national culture’. This idea of the obedient German has been promoted especially by those who seek cultural explanations for the authoritarian bent of German society in the 20thcentury. But the idea has a longer history. Herder described Germany as the land of obedience, and Kant wrote that, ‘in keeping with their penchant for law and order, they [the Germans] will rather submit to despotic treatment than venture on innovations ’. By ‘wilful reforms of government’ Kant meant revolution. Madame de Staël later observed that Germans ‘join the greatest boldness of thought to the most obedient character’. As Frederick Beiser has shown, this view, which was repeated by Heine and Marx, came to dominate the historiography. (shrink)
ABSTRACTCan there be a legal or a moral right to resist the government? Scholarly interest in the right of resistance has rarely focused on German philosophy, which has often been considered unusually committed to authority. Yet, during the Enlightenment German philosophers regularly attempted to justify not just conscientious refusal but also revolution. This essay explores the two dominant justifications, which were based in Wolffian perfectionism and Kantian relational theory. It argues that we can best understand the complexity of these theories (...) of resistance by exploring their contrasting views on the state’s purpose: providing material and spiritual welfare, or establishing freedom as independence. (shrink)
This article argues that Kant's republicanism provides a foundation for democratic procedures. The conclusion is reached through an investigation of Critique of the Power of Judgment, which allows us to interpret Kant's notion of the state as a self-determining organic community, and not merely an aggregate of individuals. The article rejects Isaiah Berlin's interpretation of Kant as an authoritarian thinker, and reveals a republican theory centered on liberal freedom expressed within a self-organizing political community.