Realizing Freedom as Non-domination: Political Obligation in Kant’s Doctrine of Right

Res Publica 28 (1):85-101 (2021)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

Prominent Kantian scholars, such as Korsgaard and Waldron, claim that the very existence of juridical-political institutions is sufficient to render laws authoritative. Critics argue that this view is unpersuasive as it requires subjects to obey grossly unjust laws. Here, I identify two problems facing scholars who reject the absolutist view of political authority proffered by Korsgaard and Waldron. First, when there is reasonable disagreement regarding a law’s legitimacy the Principle of Right generates contradictory obligations as it commands both disobedience and compliance. In clarifying this problem, I argue that individuals must disobey illegitimate laws where this requirement is co-extensive with the duty to leave the state of nature. However, disobedience amounts to domination when individuals are subjected to private judgments regarding the conditions of freedom. The Principle of Right cannot overcome this impasse as it does not offer reasons in favor of compliance that are distinct from those reasons legitimating the law. To address this issue, I supplement Kant’s account with Joseph Raz’s ‘service conception’ of authority to show that compliance can be rendered compatible with the Principle of Right. A second problem emerges when laws are blatantly illegitimate such that obedience cannot be justified. In these cases, the Principle of Right cannot guide legislative reform in an intuitively appealing way as it fails to address considerations of proportionality. Though this latter problem is not resolved here, identifying it helps to further clarify the relationship between Kant’s moral and political principles.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 89,446

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Kant on Structural Domination and Global Justice.Tamara Jugov - 2019 - Yearbook for Eastern and Western Philosophy 2019 (4):91-105.
Kant’s Political Philosophy.Kyla Ebels-Duggan - 2012 - Philosophy Compass 7 (12):896-909.
Impunity and domination: A puzzle for republicanism.Robert B. Talisse - 2014 - European Journal of Political Theory 13 (2):121-131.
Non-Domination and Political Liberal Citizenship Education.Blain Neufeld - 2019 - In Colin Macleod & Christine Tappolet (eds.), Philosophical Perspectives on Moral and Civic Education. London, UK: Routledge. pp. 135-155.
Reconstructing republican freedom.Michael J. Thompson - 2013 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 39 (3):277-298.
Krytyka neorepublikańskiej koncepcji wolności politycznej Philipa Pettita.Katarzyna Eliasz - 2018 - Avant: Trends in Interdisciplinary Studies 9 (1):147-162.
Democracy and Political Obligation.Herman van Erp - 1998 - The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy 41:239-245.
Freedom and constraint in Kant's Metaphysical elements of justice.K. Flikschuh - 1999 - History of Political Thought 20 (2):250-271.
Kant's Doctrine of Right: A Commentary.B. Sharon Byrd & Joachim Hruschka - 2010 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Joachim Hruschka.
Critical Notice: Force and Freedom: Can They Co-exist?Talia Fisher - 2011 - Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence 24 (2):387-402.

Analytics

Added to PP
2021-05-06

Downloads
22 (#598,425)

6 months
4 (#307,372)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Robert Patrick Whelan
Trinity College Dublin

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Force and freedom: Kant's legal and political philosophy.Arthur Ripstein - 2009 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Sex, Love, and Gender: A Kantian Theory.Helga Varden - 2020 - Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Moral Principles and Political Obligations.A. John Simmons - 1980 - Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 87 (4):568-568.

View all 25 references / Add more references