Political philosophy of Immanuel Kant

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The political philosophy of Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) favoured a classical republican approach. [1] In Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch (1795), Kant listed several conditions that he thought necessary for ending wars and creating a lasting peace. They included a world of constitutional republics by establishment of political community. [2] His classical republican theory was extended in Doctrine of Right (1797), the first part of Metaphysics of Morals . [3] At the end of the 20th century Kant's political philosophy had been enjoying a remarkable renaissance in English-speaking countries with more major studies in a few years than had appeared in the preceding many decades. [4]

Political philosophy sub-discipline of philosophy and political science

Political philosophy, also known as political theory, is the study of topics such as politics, liberty, justice, property, rights, law, and the enforcement of laws by authority: what they are, if they are needed, what makes a government legitimate, what rights and freedoms it should protect, what form it should take, what the law is, and what duties citizens owe to a legitimate government, if any, and when it may be legitimately overthrown, if ever.

Immanuel Kant Prussian philosopher

Immanuel Kant was an influential German philosopher in the Age of Enlightenment. In his doctrine of transcendental idealism, he argued that space, time, and causation are mere sensibilities; "things-in-themselves" exist, but their nature is unknowable. In his view, the mind shapes and structures experience, with all human experience sharing certain structural features. He drew a parallel to the Copernican revolution in his proposition that worldly objects can be intuited a priori ('beforehand'), and that intuition is therefore independent from objective reality. Kant believed that reason is the source of morality, and that aesthetics arise from a faculty of disinterested judgment. Kant's views continue to have a major influence on contemporary philosophy, especially the fields of epistemology, ethics, political theory, and post-modern aesthetics.

Classical republicanism, also known as civic republicanism or civic humanism, is a form of republicanism developed in the Renaissance inspired by the governmental forms and writings of classical antiquity, especially such classical writers as Aristotle, Polybius, and Cicero. Classical republicanism is built around concepts such as civil society, civic virtue and mixed government.

Contents

Overview

Kant's most significant contribution to political philosophy and the philosophy of law is the doctrine of Rechtsstaat . According to this doctrine, the power of the state is limited in order to protect citizens from the arbitrary exercise of authority. The Rechtsstaat (German : Rechtsstaat ) is a concept in continental European legal thinking, originally borrowed from German jurisprudence, which can be translated as "the legal state" or "state of rights". It is a "constitutional state" in which the exercise of governmental power is constrained by the law, [5] and is often tied to the Anglo-American concept of the rule of law. Kant's political philosophy has been described as liberal for its presumption of limits on the state based on the social contract as a regulative matter. [6]

Philosophy of law branch of philosophy and fundamental discipline of law

Philosophy of law is a branch of philosophy that examines the nature of law and law's relationship to other systems of norms, especially ethics and political philosophy. It asks questions like "What is law?", "What are the criteria for legal validity?", and "What is the relationship between law and morality?" Philosophy of law and jurisprudence are often used interchangeably, though jurisprudence sometimes encompasses forms of reasoning that fit into economics or sociology.

Rechtsstaat is a doctrine in continental European legal thinking, originating in German jurisprudence. It can be translated into English as "rule of law", alternatively "legal state", "state of law", "state of justice", "state of rights", or "state based on justice and integrity".

Authority is the right to exercise power, which can be formalized by a state and exercised by way of judges, appointed executives of government, or the ecclesiastical or priestly appointed representatives of a God or other deities.

In a Rechtsstaat, the citizens share legally based civil liberties and they can use the courts. A country cannot be a liberal democracy without first being a Rechtsstaat. German writers usually place Immanuel Kant's theories at the beginning of their accounts of the movement toward the Rechtsstaat. [7] The Rechtsstaat in the meaning of "constitutional state" was introduced in the latest works of Immanuel Kant after US and French constitutions were adopted in the late 18th century. Kant’s approach is based on the supremacy of a country’s written constitution. This supremacy must create guarantees for implementation of his central idea: a permanent peaceful life as a basic condition for the happiness of its people and their prosperity. Kant was basing his doctrine on none other but constitutionalism and constitutional government. Kant had thus formulated the main problem of constitutionalism, “The constitution of a state is eventually based on the morals of its citizens, which, in its turns, is based on the goodness of this constitution.”[ citation needed ] Kant’s idea is the foundation for the constitutional theory of the twentieth century.

Civil liberties or personal freedoms are personal guarantees and freedoms that the government cannot abridge, either by law or by judicial interpretation, without due process. Though the scope of the term differs between countries, civil liberties may include the freedom of conscience, freedom of press, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, the right to security and liberty, freedom of speech, the right to privacy, the right to equal treatment under the law and due process, the right to a fair trial, and the right to life. Other civil liberties include the right to own property, the right to defend oneself, and the right to bodily integrity. Within the distinctions between civil liberties and other types of liberty, distinctions exist between positive liberty/positive rights and negative liberty/negative rights.

Court judicial institution with the authority to resolve legal disputes

A court is any person or institution with authority to judge or adjudicate, often as a government institution, with the authority to adjudicate legal disputes between parties and carry out the administration of justice in civil, criminal, and administrative matters in accordance with the rule of law. In both common law and civil law legal systems, courts are the central means for dispute resolution, and it is generally understood that all people have an ability to bring their claims before a court. Similarly, the rights of those accused of a crime include the right to present a defense before a court.

Liberal democracy form of government

Liberal democracy is a liberal political ideology and a form of government in which representative democracy operates under the principles of classical liberalism. Also called Western democracy, it is characterised by elections between multiple distinct political parties, a separation of powers into different branches of government, the rule of law in everyday life as part of an open society, a market economy with private property and the equal protection of human rights, civil rights, civil liberties and political freedoms for all people. To define the system in practice, liberal democracies often draw upon a constitution, either formally written or uncodified, to delineate the powers of government and enshrine the social contract. After a period of sustained expansion throughout the 20th century, liberal democracy became the predominant political system in the world.

The Rechtsstaat concept is based on the ideas, discovered by Immanuel Kant, for example, in his Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals : "The task of establishing a universal and permanent peaceful life is not only a part of the theory of law within the framework of pure reason, but per se an absolute and ultimate goal. To achieve this goal, a state must become the community of a large number of people, living provided with legislative guarantees of their property rights secured by a common constitution. The supremacy of this constitution… must be derived a priori from the considerations for achievement of the absolute ideal in the most just and fair organization of people’s life under the aegis of public law." [8] The concept of the Rechtsstaat appeared in the German context in Robert von Mohl's book Die deutsche Polizeiwissenschaft nach den Grundsätzen des Rechtsstaates ("German police science according to the principles of the constitutional state", 1832–1834), and was contrasted with the aristocratic police state.

<i>Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals</i> philosophical tract by Immanuel Kant

Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals is the first of Immanuel Kant's mature works on moral philosophy and remains one of the most influential in the field. Kant conceives his investigation as a work of foundational ethics—one that clears the ground for future research by explaining the core concepts and principles of moral theory and showing that they are normative for rational agents. Kant aspires to nothing less than this: to lay bare the fundamental principle of morality and show that it applies to us. In the text, Kant provides a groundbreaking argument that the rightness of an action is determined by the character of the principle that a person chooses to act upon. Kant thus stands in stark contrast to the moral sense theories and teleological moral theories that dominated moral philosophy at the time he was writing. Central to the work is the role of what Kant refers to as the categorical imperative, the concept that one must act only according to that precept which he or she would will to become a universal law.

Robert von Mohl German legal scholar and politician

Robert von Mohl was a German jurist. Father of diplomat Ottmar von Mohl. Brother of Hugo von Mohl, Moritz Mohl and Julius von Mohl.

Aristocracy is a form of government that places strength in the hands of a small, privileged ruling class. The term derives from the Greek aristokratia, meaning 'rule of the best-born'.

Kant opposed "democracy" which, in that era, meant direct democracy  believing that majority rule posed a threat to individual liberty. He stated, "…democracy is, properly speaking, necessarily a despotism, because it establishes an executive power in which "all" decide for or even against one who does not agree; that is, "all", who are not quite all, decide, and this is a contradiction of the general will with itself and with freedom." [9] As most writers at the time he distinguished three forms of government: democracy, aristocracy, and monarchy with mixed government as the most ideal form of government.

Direct democracy democracy in which all people make the decisions as a group, without intermediate representants

Direct democracy or pure democracy is a form of democracy in which people decide on policy initiatives directly. This differs from the majority of currently established democracies, which are representative democracies.

Majority rule is a decision rule that selects alternatives which have a majority, that is, more than half the votes. It is the binary decision rule used most often in influential decision-making bodies, including all the legislatures of democratic nations.

General will

In political philosophy, the general will is the will of the people as a whole. The term was made famous by 18th-century French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

A distinctive feature of Kant's political philosophy is his conviction that the university should be a model of creative conflict: the philosopher's role within the university should be to "police" the higher faculties (which in his day were theology, law and medicine), making sure their teaching conforms to the principles of reason; likewise, the goal of perpetual peace in society can be achieved only when the rulers consult with philosophers on a regular basis. [10]

See also

Related Research Articles

Social contract concept in political philosophy

In moral and political philosophy, the social contract is a theory or model that originated during the Age of Enlightenment and usually concerns the legitimacy of the authority of the state over the individual. Social contract arguments typically posit that individuals have consented, either explicitly or tacitly, to surrender some of their freedoms and submit to the authority in exchange for protection of their remaining rights or maintenance of the social order. The relation between natural and legal rights is often a topic of social contract theory. The term takes its name from The Social Contract, a 1762 book by Jean-Jacques Rousseau that discussed this concept. Although the antecedents of social contract theory are found in antiquity, in Greek and Stoic philosophy and Roman and Canon Law, the heyday of the social contract was the mid-17th to early 19th centuries, when it emerged as the leading doctrine of political legitimacy.

19th-century philosophy philosophy-related events during the 19th century

In the 19th century, the philosophies of the Enlightenment began to have a dramatic effect, the landmark works of philosophers such as Immanuel Kant and Jean-Jacques Rousseau influencing new generations of thinkers. In the late 18th century a movement known as Romanticism began; it validated strong emotion as an authentic not of aesthetic experience, placing new emphasis on such emotions as trepidation, horror and terror and awe. Key ideas that sparked changes in philosophy were the fast progress of science; evolution, as postulated by Vanini, Diderot, Lord Monboddo, Erasmus Darwin, Lamarck, Goethe, and Charles Darwin; and what might now be called emergent order, such as the free market of Adam Smith within nation states. Pressures for egalitarianism, and more rapid change culminated in a period of revolution and turbulence that would see philosophy change as well.

Transcendental idealism Epistemology of the 18th-century German philosopher Immanuel Kant. Space and time are merely formal features of how we perceive objects, not things in themselves that exist independently of us.

Transcendental idealism is a doctrine founded by German philosopher Immanuel Kant in the 18th century. Kant's doctrine maintains that human experience of things is similar to the way they appear to us—implying a fundamentally subject-based component, rather than being an activity that directly comprehends the things as they are in themselves. The doctrine is most commonly presented as the idea that time and space are just human perceptions; they are not necessarily real concepts, just a medium through which humans internalize the universe.

Kantianism Kantianism

Kantianism is the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, a German philosopher born in Königsberg, Prussia. The term Kantianism or Kantian is sometimes also used to describe contemporary positions in philosophy of mind, epistemology, and ethics.

Mixed government is a form of government that combines elements of democracy (polity), aristocracy and monarchy, making impossible their respective degenerations which are conceived as anarchy, oligarchy and tyranny. The idea was popularized during classical antiquity in order to describe the stability, the innovation and the success of the republic as a form of government developed under the Roman constitution.

Perpetual peace refers to a state of affairs where peace is permanently established over a certain area.

<i>The Metaphysics of Morals</i> 1797 work of political and moral philosophy by Immanuel Kant

The Metaphysics of Morals is a 1797 work of political and moral philosophy by Immanuel Kant.

Constitutional theory is an area of constitutional law that focuses on the underpinnings of constitutional government. It overlaps with legal theory, constitutionalism, philosophy of law and democratic theory. It is not limited by country or jurisdiction.

Kantian ethics Ethical theory of Immanuel Kant

Kantian ethics refers to a deontological ethical theory ascribed to the German philosopher Immanuel Kant. The theory, developed as a result of Enlightenment rationalism, is based on the view that the only intrinsically good thing is a good will; an action can only be good if its maxim – the principle behind it – is duty to the moral law. Central to Kant's construction of the moral law is the categorical imperative, which acts on all people, regardless of their interests or desires. Kant formulated the categorical imperative in various ways. His principle of universalizability requires that, for an action to be permissible, it must be possible to apply it to all people without a contradiction occurring. If a contradiction occurs the act violates Aristotle's "Non-contradiction" concept which states that just actions cannot lead to contradictions. Kant's formulation of humanity, the second section of the Categorical Imperative, states that as an end in itself humans are required never to treat others merely as a means to an end, but always, additionally, as ends in themselves. The formulation of autonomy concludes that rational agents are bound to the moral law by their own will, while Kant's concept of the Kingdom of Ends requires that people act as if the principles of their actions establish a law for a hypothetical kingdom. Kant also distinguished between perfect and imperfect duties. A perfect duty, such as the duty not to lie, always holds true; an imperfect duty, such as the duty to give to charity, can be made flexible and applied in particular time and place.

Articles in social and political philosophy include:

Republican Liberalism is an International Relations Theory which claims that Liberal Democracies rarely go to war or fight each other, and in that sense are more peaceful. However, the theory does not propose that Democracies are more peaceful than non-democracies, as many Democracies are engaged in wars with non-democracies. The theory holds that the reason for this intra-democratic peace is rooted in the regime type of these countries (Democracy) and the existence of similar domestic political cultures, common moral values, economic cooperation and interdependence.

This is an index of articles in jurisprudence.

<i>Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch</i> essay by Immanuel Kant

Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch is a 1795 book by Immanuel Kant.

The rule according to a higher law is a statement which expresses that no law may be enforced by the government unless it conforms with certain universal principles of fairness, morality, and justice. Thus, the rule according to a higher law may serve as a practical legal criterion to qualify the instances of political or economical decision-making, when a government, even though acting in conformity with clearly defined and properly enacted legal rules, still produces results which many observers find unfair or unjust.

Liberalism is a school of thought within international relations theory which can be thought to revolve around three interrelated principles:

Mary J. Gregor was an American author, translator, and professor. She was a Kant scholar and Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at San Diego State University, best known for translating the works of the German philosopher Immanuel Kant.

References

  1. Kant’s Principles of Politics, including his essay on Perpetual Peace. A Contribution to Political Science , translation by W. Hastie, Edinburgh: Clark, 1891.
  2. Kant, Immanuel. Perpetual Peace. Trans. Lewis White Beck (377). For a summary and
  3. Manfred Riedel Between Tradition and Revolution: The Hegelian Transformation of Political Philosophy, Cambridge 1984
  4. Smith, A. Anthony (1985-04-01). "Kant's Political Philosophy: Rechtsstaat or Council Democracy?". The Review of Politics. 47 (2): 253–280. doi:10.1017/s003467050003672x. JSTOR   1406673.
  5. Carl Schmitt, The Concept of the Political, ch. 7; Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy
  6. • Gerald Gaus and Shane D. Courtland, 2011, "Liberalism", 1.1, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
       • Immanuel Kant, ([1797]). The Metaphysics of Morals , Part 1), Bobbs-Merrill.
  7. Friedrich Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty .
  8. Immanuel Kant, in History of Political Philosophy, edited by Leo Strauss and Joseph Cropsey, University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, 1987
  9. Kant, Immanuel. Perpetual Peace. Trans. Lewis White Beck (352).
  10. For an explanation and defense of these two aspects of Kant's political theory, see Stephen Palmquist's essays: "Kant's Ideal of the University as a Model for World Peace", in Papers of International Conference on Two Hundred Years after Kant (Tehran, Iran: Allame Tabataba'i University Press, 2005), pp.207-222; and "The Philosopher as a 'Secret Agent' for Peace: Taking Seriously Kant's Revival of the 'Old Question'", in Valerio Rohden, Ricardo R. Terra and Guido A. de Almeida (eds.), Recht und Frieden in der Philosophie Kants, vol. 4 of Akten des X. Internationalen Kant-Kongresses (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2008), pp.601-612.