Kant on Citizenship and Universal Independence

Australian Journal of Legal Philosophy 33 (2008)
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Abstract

Kant's political philosophy draws a distinction between 'passive' citizens who are merely protected by the law and 'active' citizens who may also contribute to it. Although the distinction between passive and active citizens is often dismissed by scholars as an 'illiberal and undemocratic' relic of eighteenth century prejudice, the distinction is found in every democracy that distinguishes between mere inhabitants -- such as tourists and guestworkers -- and enfranchised citizens. The purpose of this essay is both interpretive and suggestive. First, I will argue that Kant's mature distinction between active and passive citizens follows from an institutional deficiency in the the developing state rather than the natural deficiency of passive citizens, as Kant's critics have alleged. Second, I will draw on systematic features of Kant's political thought in order to claim that the state has a duty to create the institutional conditions of universal active citizenship.

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Jacob Weinrib
University of Toronto, St. George (PhD)

Citations of this work

Freedom and poverty in the Kantian state.Rafeeq Hasan - 2018 - European Journal of Philosophy 26 (3):911-931.
Kant on Civil Self-Sufficiency.Luke Davies - 2023 - Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 105 (1):118-140.
Kant, coercion, and the legitimation of inequality.Benjamin L. McKean - 2022 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 25 (4):528-550.

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