Kant, Freedom as Independence, and Democracy

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While the influence of Kant’s practical philosophy on contemporary political theory has been profound, it has its source in Kant’s autonomy-based moral philosophy rather than in his freedom-based philosophy of Right. Kant scholars have increasingly turned their attention to Kant’s Rechtslehre, but they have largely ignored its potential contribution to discussions of democracy. However, Kant’s approach to political philosophy can supply unique insights to the latter. His notion that freedom and the public legal order are co-constitutive can be developed into a freedom argument for constitutional democracy. This freedom argument goes beyond freedom as moral autonomy and a libertarian idea of freedom as non-interference to a notion of freedom as a form of standing constituted by the public legal order. The trouble with other attempts to connect freedom and democracy is that they have operated with a moral ideal that is independent of a public legal order.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Journal of Politics
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)792-805
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2016

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