Kant, coercion, and the legitimation of inequality

Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
Abstract
Immanuel Kant’s political philosophy has enjoyed renewed attention as an egalitarian alternative to contemporary inequality since it seems to uncompromisingly reassert the primacy of the state over the economy, enabling it to defend the modern welfare state against encroaching neoliberal markets. However, I argue that, when understood as a free-standing approach to politics, Kant’s doctrine of right shares essential features with the prevailing theories that legitimate really existing economic inequality. Like Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman, Kant understands the state’s function as essentially coercive and, in justifying state coercion, he adopts a narrow conception of political freedom that formally preserves the right to choose while denying that the range of choices one actually has can be a matter of justice. As a result, Kant cannot identify various forms of social pressure as potential injustices even as he recognizes their power to create and sustain troubling inequalities. For both Kant and the neoliberals, the result is that economic relations almost never count as unjust forms of coercion, no matter how unequal they are. Views that identify coercion as the trigger for duties of justice are thus particularly ill-suited to orient us to contemporary inequality.
Categories
(categorize this paper)
PhilPapers/Archive ID
MCKKCA
Revision history
Archival date: 2019-08-25
View upload history
References found in this work BETA
Capitalism and Freedom.Friedman, Milton

View all 19 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Added to PP index
2019-08-25

Total views
46 ( #37,375 of 44,320 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
46 ( #16,206 of 44,320 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks to external links.