A Consistent Egalitarian: an Analysis of the Relationship between Kant's Race Theory and Moral Philosphy

Wuda Philosophical Review 28 (2):268-290 (2021)
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Kant is regarded as the spokesman of the contemporary declaration of human rights and the forerunner of global citizenship theory. However, this noble image has been questioned by critics for his comment of empirical racial hierarchy stated in the pre-critical period: Kant’s moral law applies only to the white race with the “full personality”. Around the question of whether Kant’s pure moral philosophy was impregnated by his racist view, the defenders of Kant either adopt the negative defense strategy of affirming the transcendental moral philosophy and negating the racial thought, or try to justify the consistency of Kant’s theory from the perspective of his later philosophy of right. The deficiency of these two justifications is that they do not directly deal with the relationship between moral philosophy and race theory. When Kant developed a mature moral theory in the mid-1780s, he also constructed a systemically mature race theory under the guidance of teleology principles to defend the unity of mankind in a different world. This theory can be used as the explanatory basis to prove the universality of Kant’s moral philosophy, which reflects the deep correlation between moral philosophy and race theory. From this perspective, it can not only make up for the lack of defenders and respond to the critics’ doubts, but also portray a consistent egalitarian image of Kant.

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Lu Zhao
Bond University


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