Kant's Non-Absolutist Conception of Political Legitimacy –– How Public Right ‘‘Concludes’’ Private Right in the ““Doctrine of Right””

Kant-Studien 101 (3):331-351 (2010)
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Abstract
Contrary to the received view, I argue that Kant, in the “Doctrine of Right”, outlines a third, republican alternative to absolutist and voluntarist conceptions of political legitimacy. According to this republican alternative, a state must meet certain institutional requirements before political obligations arise. An important result of this interpretation is not only that there are institutional restraints on a legitimate state's use of coercion, but also that the rights of the state are not in principle reducible to the rights of individuals. Thus, for Kant, political obligations are intimately linked to the existence of a certain kind of republican institutional framework.
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