Kant, Immanuel (1724–1804) Elisabeth Ellis Immanuel Kant founded modern philosophy, freed morality from religion, laid down principles of human rights recognized everywhere today, and contributed insights that are still important to the fields of physics, astronomy, geoscience, anthropology, and aesthetics. Political theory is considered one of Kant’s minor areas of interest; though there is important material for political thought in each of the three great Critiques, Kant’s main political work, the Metaphysics of Morals, is central neither to Kant’s oeuvre nor to the canon of political thought. Nevertheless, Kant achieves original insights in his political philosophy and in his philosophy’s political implications; both prove vitally important for present-day students of politics. Kant’s astonishing achievements in political theory, then, contrast sharply with the relatively low esteem in which his political works are held by Kant scholars and political theorists alike. A selective list of his political-theoretical accomplishments would include: the philosophical foundation of the Rechtsstaat (English-language scholars would say “the rule of law”); vindication of autonomy as the basis for legitimate politics and the concomitant attacks on all forms of domination; application of the critical method to the study of political life; authorship of the most defensible social contract theory, including radical and important theories of property, regime change, and citizenship; contribution of the ideal of a peaceful world federation and the principles of international right that lead to it; analysis and defense of the public sphere as the locus of critical discourse and the engine for progressive change; demonstration that “enlightenment” is an ongoing process of self-critique leading toward autonomy. As Tracy Strong has recently put it, “to be truly human is to be called to be self-critical and, thus, free … What Kant is talking about is a dramatic but slow transformation of the manner in which people relate to the world and to themselves” (Strong 2012: 28). Like his fellow social contract theorists Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau, Kant was a polymath whose contributions in philosophy and the natural sciences were on a par with those he made in political thought. Though history has vindicated his scholarly achievements, and though his critical work had become enormously influential by the time he retired from teaching in 1796, Kant’s academic career was slow to develop. Recent scholarship has been calling attention to the continuities rather than the differences between Kant’s various periods of productivity. However, we ordinarily refer to Kant’s writings up to 1770 as “precritical,” to those from Critique of Pure Reason (1781) through Critique of Practical Reason (1788) and Critique of the Power of Judgment (1790) up to the turn of the century as “critical,” and to the very last and mostly unpublished work as “postcritical.” Except for two early essays on Enlightenment and universal history (published in 1784), all of Kant’s political writings were published after 1790. Born into a family of harness-makers in Königsberg, in what was then part of Prussia, Kant enjoyed a happy early childhood followed by a difficult time in high school. The Collegium Fridericianum emphasized rote learning and neglected mathematics and science education, though Kant did achieve a solid grounding in the Latin classics. He then attended the university at Königsberg (the Albertina) and, although he did well, he left without taking a degree at first. After working for a time as a household tutor, Kant completed the three thesis projects required in order for him to assume an unsalaried lecturer’s position; these works were on the subjects of fire, cognition, and physical The Encyclopedia of Political Thought, First Edition. Edited by Michael T. Gibbons. © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Published 2015 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. DOI: 10.1002/9781118474396.wbept0555 2 monadology. Kant’s courses were numerous and popular, especially his cutting-edge lectures in the new field of anthropology. However, he did not acquire a professorship until March 1770, when he was 45 years old. Kant was well known in Königsberg and had a broad correspondence, in keeping with his participation in the eighteenth-century “republic of letters,” but he did not become truly famous until the publication of the first edition of Critique of Pure Reason in 1781. In dense, careful, systematic language, Kant asks how synthetic a priori knowledge is possible. Since, for Kant, a “critique” inquires into some thing’s conditions of possibility, by pursuing a “critique of pure reason” Kant aims to discover how something really new rather than just deduced from a concept can possibly be known to be necessarily true. Kant’s answer is his famous reversal of Copernicus’s insight that the solar system is heliocentric rather than geocentric: the conditions of possible synthetic a priori knowledge inhere in the particular cognitive apparatus that limited rational beings such as ourselves bring to the project of encountering the world. In short: Copernicus showed us that we were not the center of the solar system, but Kant demonstrates that we human beings are the source of the possibility of synthetic a priori truth. That publication rocked the European philosophical world, sometimes appropriately (as in readers’ appreciation of the brilliance of Kant’s Copernican turn), and just as often inappropriately (as in the romantics’ overwrought reaction to the misreading that Kant leaves us permanently estranged from an unreachable “real” world). Between 1770 and 1781, the so-called “silent decade,” Kant did not publish but worked on his critical ideas. The publication of the Critique of Pure Reason in 1781 was followed by an astounding burst of scholarly productivity: Kant revised and summarized his theoretical work in the Prolegomena and in a second edition of the Critique of Pure Reason (which appeared in 1787); he published his major ethical works the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals (in 1785) and the Critique of Practical Reason (in 1788), as well as various essays in ethics and the second half of the Metaphysics of Morals, the Tugendlehre or Doctrine of Virtue; he wrote books and essays on religion, natural science, anthropology, university life, education, and other topics; and, most significantly for our purposes, he published his great series of works in political thought. The most important of these is the first half of the Metaphysics of Morals, the Rechtslehre or Doctrine of Right, published in 1797; but there is also a series of short works, beginning with “What Is Enlightenment?” in 1784, continuing with the influential “Toward Perpetual Peace” in 1795 and “On the Common Saying: That May Be Correct in Theory but It Is of No Use in Practice” in 1793, and concluding with the Conflict of the Faculties in 1798. Some of these essays were published in a well-known monthly magazine of Enlightenment thought, the Berlinische Monatsschrift, and were thus engaged in the ongoing cultural controversies of the day. For example, Kant’s famous essay “What Is Enlightenment?” was written in response to a question raised by one of the interlocutors in a series of essays debating whether the state should sanction civil marriage or not. As would be expected of a Prussian academic at the end of the eighteenth century, Kant had to work within the strictures of state censorship, which were sometimes relatively liberal but never absent, and which sometimes affected his publications directly. The essays in the Monatsschrift trod carefully around controversial issues like civil freedoms and the role of the state in regulating religion, while they said as much as they dared; they were publications in a state under absolute rule, even if the monarch styled himself relatively progressive. In 1784 Kant could delicately express the hope that Frederick II would provide civil security while encouraging progressive freedom in arenas like religion, business, and science: If it is now asked whether we at present live in an enlightened age, the answer is: No, but we do live in an age of enlightenment … a good deal more is required for people [to use] their own understanding confidently and well in religious 3 matters … But we do have distinct intimations that the field is now being opened for them to work freely in this direction and that the hindrances to universal enlightenment or to humankind’s emergence from its self-incurred minority are gradually becoming fewer. In this regard this age is the age of enlightenment or the century of Frederick. (8: 40; 21) By the end of his career, however, Kant was struggling with censorship under Frederick II’s successor, Frederick William II; and, although he obeyed the letter of the law as he interpreted it, he did little to hide his disagreement with official positions. After Frederick William’s death in 1797, Kant published the three-essay collection Conflict of the Faculties, in which he defends philosophers against state interference by pointing out that philosophical arguments are subject only to the rule of reason. In the preface to this work he published both the 1794 royal order restricting his writings on religious subjects and his response to it: here he is using the trademark Kantian means of publicity against censorship while assiduously remaining an obedient subject and encouraging the sovereign to see that supporting enlightenment is in the state’s interest. “This nonsense [the old censorship policy] has now been brought under control,” Kant writes: The choice of a wise government has fallen on an enlightened statesman who has … the talent, and the will to promote the broad interests of the entire scholastic profession and who will, accordingly, secure the progress of culture in the field of the sciences against any new invasions of obscurantism. (7: 11; 21) In both the early essay “What Is Enlightenment?” and the late Conflict of the Faculties, therefore, we see Kant employing a combination of public argument and civil obedience to try to move the state toward more enlightened policies. Between 1784 and 1798 Kant had plenty of opportunities to be disappointed in the behavior of the Prussian leadership – from the partitions of Poland, which violated international right, to the imposition of controls on religious expression domestically. Why, then, did a philosopher known for his unyielding defense of freedom counsel obedience to an obviously unjust state? Before we can answer this question we will have to unpack, briefly, Kant’s main political theoretical positions. Here we are interested in Kant’s contributions to political thought rather than in his epistemological, moral, aesthetic, or other achievements. However, we should begin from the fact that all of Kant’s various areas of interest converge on the idea of freedom. In his work on pure reason, Kant shows us how we must think for ourselves and how the mental apparatus we necessarily use to do this thinking can lead us astray if we are not attentive the limits of possible human knowledge. In his ethical works, Kant demonstrates that every limited rational being is subject to the moral law that arises from reason itself: we must treat other people as ends in themselves rather than as mere means, as one formulation of the categorical imperative has it. In addition to these two kinds of rational and ethical freedom, Kant conceptualizes what he calls “external” freedom, which applies to people’s interactions and thus to political life. Freedom in the political sense is freedom from determination by another’s choice (and thus, as the philosopher of political as well as rational and ethical freedom, Kant will doggedly oppose political despotism). Though present-day liberal theorists sometimes seem to forget it, Kant consistently posed the critical question about political autonomy – what are the conditions of possible external freedom? – and his answers made clear that autonomy is always an aspiration more or less supported by social, political, and even ideological conditions. Until recently scholars of Kant’s ethical and political thought tended to take a narrow, rigoristic view of what Kant meant by freedom under the moral law, relying on the Groundwork and on minor essays like the 1797 “On the Supposed Right to Lie from Philanthropy,” where Kant argues on the basis of the universalization principle that it can never be right to lie – not even to a murderer at the door asking whether his proposed victim is at home. 4 Attention to the specifics of Kant’s careful distinctions (in this case, between right and virtue) can usually explain Kant’s sometimes strange positions, but inquiring into the details of this debate would lead us too far from our focus on Kant’s political thought. What matters for us here is that Kant scholars now generally reject the rigoristic interpretation of Kant’s ethics, and Kantian political theorists now generally reject the narrow version of abstract individualism that was said to follow from Kant’s rigoristic ethics. Instead students of Kant’s political theory are discovering Kant’s fully realized political thought, present as it is throughout his works and not just as an offshoot of the ethical theory. An important advantage to this more accurate and complete reading of Kant’s political thought is that it reflects a Kantian commitment to cosmopolitanism rather than an attempt to impose a narrowly European view of political right on the rest of humanity, as was once commonly assumed. As Pauline Kleingeld has recently written, Kant’s citizens are emphatically not individualistic citizens of nowhere, who relish their unattached and unencumbered existence, are self-satisfied with their self-styled identity … and regard the more rooted mortals around them with unmistakable condescension … Instead, on Kant’s view, cosmopolitanism is an attitude taken up in acting: an attitude of recognition, respect, openness, interest, beneficence and concern toward other human individuals, cultures, and peoples as members of one global community. (Kleingeld 2013: 1; see also Bayefsky 2013) So how can people exercise their freedom from determination by another’s choice in the kind of global community envisioned by Kant and Kleingeld? The answer to this question will place Kant firmly in the social contract tradition, though his version of social contract theory is a distinctly Kantian one, emphasizing the function of the social contract as an idea. Like other social contract theorists, Kant is interested in how to reconcile the apparent contradiction that arises from the need to vindicate both individual freedom and civic order at the same time. In order to be free from determination by another’s will, I need to be able to prevent other people from interfering with my pursuing my independent choices. But using my own force to prevent them from interfering with me would not only be unlikely to succeed, it would also subject them to the same illegitimate determination by my choice that I was trying to avoid from them. Thus the only legitimate coercion that is possible must be exercised by everyone (Kant says, it must be omnilateral rather than unilateral). What basis for coercion could be truly omnilateral? Only coercion based on the rule of law, rather than coercion based on the will of any person or group, can legitimately constrain individuals from interfering in one another’s free choices. Thus Kant moves from the critical question of how external freedom is possible to the necessity of the civil condition as the basis of any possible exercise of freedom. We can now begin to understand how Kant could counsel obedience even to an unjust monarch: according to Kant, the coercive order of the state undergirds the possibility of the exercise of external freedom. But Kant is no Hobbes, and he is not satisfied with unaccountable sovereignty. Though any order that guarantees the rule of law makes progress toward civic freedom possible, and thus one should not act to undermine such order according to Kant, legitimate political authority must be republican in spirit, by which Kant means that its laws must correspond to the universal will of the people. We saw already that, for Kant, only an omnilateral will can rightly coerce us. But there is, plainly, no really existing mouthpiece of the people’s omnilateral will available, for Kant or for present-day students of politics interested in electoral mandates or in the public good. Kant devises several strategies to deal with the necessary but unavailable omnilateral will. He argues that the test of whether a policy is legitimate is whether a people could have reasonably supported it; this test allows Kant to criticize any policy that benefits part of society, or “rogues” as he calls 5 them, at the expense of the whole. Kant proposes that we use publicity as another test of legitimacy, arguing that any policy that is incompatible with being made public is necessarily wrong. And in his accounts of property and international relations Kant uses the idea of provisional right as a way of moving toward legitimacy when the civil condition that would make right conclusive is absent. In Kant’s view, with everyone we might interact with, we are obliged to enter into a coercive regime that guarantees reciprocal rights; and, since the world is round and connected by waterways, we are potentially interacting with everyone else. Thus, if we fail jointly to enter a civil condition, we do wrong to everyone who cannot be assured of our good conduct. This logic seems to lead naturally to the idea of a world-state; but Kant expresses not only skepticism that this would ever come about in the empirical world but also the worry that a world-state would threaten to become despotic. How can we act justly in the real world, then, if the only condition of just interaction – omnilaterally justified coercion under law – seems beyond our grasp? Kant works through one version of this problem in his exposition of property rights in Metaphysics of Morals. Here he argues, against Locke, that property rights do not apply between owners and objects but are effectively agreements among people to respect one another’s rights to objects of their choosing. By making an object my own, I am declaring that everyone else has an obligation to leave it to me. But I cannot unilaterally declare that everyone else is under an obligation just because it suits me; only an omnilateral will can bind everyone justly. It might look at this stage as if Kant is radically undermining the institution of property rights, and certainly one might take the argument in this direction. However, Kant does not do so. Instead Kant argues that, in the absence of the conclusive right to property that would be possible in circumstances of civil justice, we should recognize a provisional right to property: “Possession in anticipation of and preparation for the civil condition, which can be based only on a law of a common will, possession which therefore accords with the possibility of such a condition, is provisionally rightful possession” (6: 257; 410). Two years earlier, in “Toward Perpetual Peace,” Kant used the idea of provisional right to solve a similar problem about how to move the real, imperfect world closer to a just one. In his political writings, the social contract and its corresponding principles – “1. The freedom of every member of the society as a human being. 2. His equality with every other as a subject. 3. The independence of every member of a commonwealth as a citizen” (8: 290; 291) – function as an ideal for critical comparison with actual states of affairs. In Kant’s day as today, international relations posed an especially wicked version of the problem of choosing between corrupt realism and ineffectual idealism. Kant uses the idea of provisional right to explode the dilemma: states should act such that their actions promote the possibility of progress toward just relations among themselves. Thus in some cases states need not give up practices that, on the face of it, violate contractarian ideals, so long as the temporary continuation of those practices promotes the eventual realization of justice. Kant’s examples of provisionally permissible practices include treating the state as personal patrimony, using sovereign debt to fund military adventure, and maintaining standing armies (8: 343–7; 317– 21). None of these practices could withstand the Kantian tests of legitimacy we introduced earlier, but it is possible that their sudden or unilateral cessation would worsen rather than improve the prospects for eventual international justice. The rule Kant set down in his account of international right in the Metaphysics of Morals holds equally well for Kantian provisional right generally: “always leave open the possibility of leaving the state of nature … and entering a rightful condition” (6: 347; 485). Kant’s political thought offers important lessons for present-day students of politics. His provisional perspective arises from the real conflict generated by the combination of empirical and normative factors that produce 6 politics as such: we are limited rational beings with access to the moral law, applying it provisionally, contingently, and with inadequate understanding to the task of critical assessment of our real-world circumstances. As Kant says in the introduction to his Metaphysics of Morals, systematic completeness is not possible for knowledge of politics. In his third Critique, moreover, Kant makes similar arguments about the possibility of empirical observation generally, emphasizing that scientists necessarily employ theoretical rules of thumb before they are able to make any observation at all. From both these points of view, then, the Kantian critic of method in contemporary political science will have much to say. On the one hand, such a critic will caution us to avoid transgressing the bounds of possible knowledge by giving too much credence to rational models of political behavior or by putting too much trust in our techniques of empirical observation (however sophisticated these may have become). On the other hand, the Kantian critic might also support a mode of investigation that attempts to delineate the formal conditions of political interaction as such, especially as these are approximated in practice. From Kantian provisionalism, political theory can gain a model of incremental knowledge accumulation, a theory of the dynamic interaction between norms and institutions, and a set of hypotheses about regime change, social movements, and other important political phenomena. From Kant’s philosophy of science, students of politics can learn about the conditions of empirical knowledge in general. Together, these Kantian observations have a significant contribution to make to ongoing debates about how to understand political life. Political theory is part of the discipline of political science, of course. Political science has suffered lately from unproductive internal strife, increasing neglect from those with resources to distribute, and, worst of all, persistent public ridicule. Governments around the world are reducing their support for political science research and teaching at just the moment when global political dysfunction needs most to be understood. At least twice since 1781, Kant has come to the rescue of disciplines in need. With the publication of his Critique of Pure Reason, the legitimate pursuit of scientific knowledge through empirical observation was shown to be possible, even if it is limited by the nature of our mental apparatus. Two centuries later, the moribund world of Anglo-American political philosophy, caught in a sterile dispute between utilitarians and deontologists, was revived with the publication of John Rawls’s deeply Kantian Theory of Justice in 1971. Having provided crucial insights for the enterprises of empirical natural science and analytical political philosophy, Kant may well be able to do the same for the study of politics more generally. Kant does not have all the answers to political science’s questions. Some of his political views fail to transcend his historical context (examples include Kant’s relegation of women and working people to passive citizenship and his sometimes dismissive assessments of the contributions of nonwestern cultures). Worse, some of Kant’s innovative contributions to the new science of anthropology, and especially his work on the concept of race, helped justify racist practices like slavery and opposition to racial intermarriage (Bernasconi 2001). In making distinctions between various races of human beings (whites, Negroes, Huns, and Hindus were the designations he used), Kant was mainly interested in establishing a monogenetic theory of human development in which there is only one human species. Even so, a troubling tension remains between Kant’s ringing defense of human freedom and equality, on the one hand, and his views on women, workers, and nonwhites, on the other. However, for the most part Kant’s potential contributions to political theory can be made independent of his eighteenth-century prejudices (but see Marwah 2013). To be sure, a Kantian perspective cannot help a political science that would abandon its practical orientation and turn to behavioral science in the strictest sense of the word. Such a turn would ultimately be self-defeating, even disregarding its incompatibility with Kantian theory, 7 since any empirically accurate description of interacting human beings would have to recognize the practical role of justice-based arguments in the public sphere. If, however, scholars of politics have something to contribute to the world at large, then we would be well advised to pay attention to a few of Kant’s more salient arguments. In “Theory and Practice,” for example, Kant could be writing directly to an audience of present-day scholars of politics: This hope for better times, without which an earnest desire to do something profitable for the general well-being would never have warmed the human heart, has moreover always influenced the work of well-disposed people … Confronted by the sorry sight, not so much of those troubles that oppress human beings from natural causes as rather of those that they themselves inflict upon one another, the mind is nevertheless cheered up by the prospect that matters could become better in the future. (8: 308–9; 306–7) Most of the great challenges facing humanity today are political rather than technical; we will make progress toward solving them by learning to interact with each other better. Consider the following challenges: how to constrain ourselves from collectively overheating the atmosphere and acidifying the ocean, how to police ourselves such that none of us begins a nuclear war, how to overcome differences that prevent us from ensuring just life circumstances for every human being. These are all problems that Kant would categorize as “self-inflicted,” and “well-disposed” political theorists must address them. So what wisdom can Kant offer a discipline facing such weighty problems? In the first place, he provides guidance to anyone who seeks knowledge, and particularly to anyone who seeks knowledge of things like politics, which exist at the border of freedom and nature. As we have seen, Kant in his first Critique demonstrates that the workings of the human, limited but rational, mental apparatus necessitate certain limits to what can be known of the natural world. For example, human beings must conceive of things in terms of extension in space and persistence in time, although we have no external proof that space and time are real beyond our subjective experience of them. Many of the problems that appear to us to be philosophical or scientific conundrums are just artifacts of the interaction between our cognizing selves and a world that is not directly knowable in itself (since all our knowledge is mediated by the mode of thinking that is given to us by nature). By directing our attention to the epistemological conditions of knowledge as such, Kant reminds us that science is a product of the relationship between cognizing minds such as ours and the natural world of which we are a part. Famous problems, such as the existence of god, the reality of freedom, or even our reliance on consistent laws of nature, are real for us because our interactions with nature necessarily produce them. But these issues remain in large part generated by our particular mental apparatus; we do not have any information about their independent reality. In order to make sense of the world, and indeed in order to pursue scientific knowledge, we have to make certain regulative assumptions about nature. In the second half of the Critique of the Power of Judgment, Kant discusses the way in which such assumptions make scientific knowledge possible for beings like us. Were he able to address present-day scholars of politics, Kant might well remark upon our ungrounded faith that the observations we quantify with so much sophistication reflect a reality independent of our cognizing mental apparatuses. Kant did not address the question of a science of politics in today’s sense of the word, though he did discuss the possibility of a systematic treatment of political right in the introduction of the Metaphysics of Morals. There he argues that any such knowledge is of necessity incomplete, since it combines theoretical principles of right with the empirical conditions of their always partial implementation in practice. Elsewhere Kant also considers the scientific status of other enterprises with less capacity for certainty than morals or physics, such as chemistry and psychology. 8 Such disciplines can indeed achieve a degree of scientific status, even if they are always imperfect. These imperfect disciplines, like the study of politics, use regulative principles (such as the teleological ideal of progress in history, or the assumption that what looks to us like a distinct object is in fact a distinct object with inherent unity) to guide their investigations. Applying these ideas to the study of politics, a Kantian political theorist would seek to identify and make known the regulative principles we necessarily use in making our observations. Along the same lines, Kant would advise students of politics interested in the accurate characterization of their objects of inquiry to be sensitive to their particular standpoints. An ideal standpoint, of course, is not available to limited rational beings like us. Discussing the impossibility of obtaining an ideal standpoint with regard to the question of whether there is progress in human history, Kant writes: If the course of human affairs seems so senseless to us, perhaps it lies in a poor choice of position from which we regard it … But, and this is precisely the misfortune, we are not capable of placing ourselves in this position when it is a question of the prediction of free actions. (7: 148; 149) Here, in Conflict of the Faculties, and elsewhere, too, Kant recognizes the difficulty of obtaining the proper standpoint on social questions, but he does not counsel resignation. Instead he offers a rough guide to good research about politics. First, Kant argues, one must identify the appropriate regulative principle with which to guide one’s characterization of the problem at hand. In this case of the question of progress, Kant looks for evidence of human agency. “An event must be sought” that demonstrates the existence of realized freedom in the world, even if such freedom can never directly be observed (7: 150; 151). His theory of freedom tells him to look for disinterested action motivated by respect for the moral law, and he finds such an event in the willingness of Prussian observers of the French Revolution to voice their support even at the risk of paying a substantial personal price for doing so (7: 152; 153). Now, it is evident that, in Conflict, Kant did not consider the possibility of entirely disinterested expressions of opinion that support morally abhorrent views (against self-sacrificing Prussian freedom lovers, for example, we might oppose self-sacrificing radical ethno-nationalists). However, his argument depends not on the moral content of the particular principle for the sake of which really existing human beings are willing to endanger themselves, but only on the fact that human actions have happened that can only be explained by reasons of the moral (and not material) type. In other words, the moral reasoning in question need not be sound, but only formally moral and not material. Though Kant does occasionally forget this distinction, presupposing that all moral reasoning must necessarily have the same contents he describes in The Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, the overall thrust of his political work is toward the ubiquity of the structure of moral reasoning rather than toward any narrowly specific view of its contents. In “Theory and Practice,” for example, Kant writes that empirical reality includes “human nature, in which respect for right and duty is still alive” (8: 312; 309). When Kant claims that “all politics must bend its knee before right,” he is referring to the fact that political reasoning everywhere uses arguments about justice to legitimate itself (leaving the contents of particular accounts of right open) (8: 380; 347). Thus Kant has used a regulative principle (he assumed that there must be real human agency, though he could not know that in any strong sense) to make an important empirical observation about political life (there are instances of human action that can only be explained by moral motivation). This finding of Kant’s raises important issues for present-day students of politics. We might look for conditions that make morally motivated political action more or less possible for human subjects (for example, the Prussians admirers of the French Revolution might not have been able to communicate at 9 all under different political conditions). We might use these investigations to raise critical questions about our own societies (for example, our public sphere might facilitate some kinds of communication while preventing others, or it might operate in such a way that the critique–action nexus posited by Kant is disabled). At its most basic, Kantian theory teaches students of politics to attend to the fragility, value, and context dependence of human agency. Though we must assume, with Kant, that we “are dealing with beings that act freely,” we must also attend to the conditions that make this ideal more or less real (7: 148; 149). After all, we can easily imagine – indeed we can both find and remember – circumstances in which moral argument does not affect political life, and thus circumstances in which politics as we understand it recedes. As Hannah Arendt says, “the trouble with modern theories of behaviorism is not that they are wrong but that they could become true” (Arendt 1958: 322). For Kant in his political work, there are two types of political theory. On the one hand, there are ideal theories of justice. These are based on moral truths known theoretically, not empirically, and they result in such famous Kantian principles as the injunction to treat others always as ends, never as means. On the other hand, Kant is very interested in empirical theories of political life and contributed a number of them himself. Probably Kant’s best known empirical theory of politics is the democratic peace hypothesis, which asserts that democracies are unlikely to start aggressive wars (Doyle 1983). These second sorts of theories are open to empirical confirmation, disconfirmation, and modification, just as any scientific hypothesis would be. But, for Kant as for Rawls and for other liberal contract theorists, members of the first type of theory – basic principles of political justice – are not open to empirical confirmation or disconfirmation. We reach them in a number of (always contestable) ways – such as by thought experiments, histories of discourses, and public deliberation (among other means). For his part, Kant uses his critical method of deduction to construct norms of political justice. Even so, there is room for empirical elements like emotion in Kant’s normative political theory. Certainly emotion plays less of a role in Kant’s ethics than it does for other moral thinkers. Reacting perhaps partly against the emotional Pietist teachings he experienced in high school at the Collegium Fridericianum, but in the main on the basis of philosophical considerations, Kant famously gives us a modern moral theory based not on religion or emotion or on anything material or conditioned, but on reason alone. As we have already seen, the moral law is expressed in the form of a categorical imperative (that is, a rule that must be followed under all circumstances). The best known of Kant’s various formulations of the categorical imperative is “act only in accordance with that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it become a universal law” (4: 421; 73). We are subject to the moral law not because God wills it (though this law does certainly resemble the moral imperatives expressed in many different Scriptural traditions) or because God will punish us in the afterlife if we fail to follow it, or for any other material reason. The moral law according to Kant governs us categorically, beyond all circumstance, necessarily: as long as we conceive of ourselves as choice-making agents at all, we are subject to the moral law and its categorical imperative. Though there is not enough space in this entry on Kant and political theory to explore all the political implications of his categorical imperative, we should pause here briefly to appreciate the radically egalitarian implications of a moral theory whose law binds us just as human beings (and therefore regardless of social station, political condition, gender, history, or any other material matter). However, returning to the question at hand (emotion in Kant’s theory), we see that, despite Kant’s restriction of morality’s origin and rules to reason alone, emotion persists in Kant’s theory in its role as moral motivation. We experience awe with regard to the moral law, and we are moved to pursue the good. Just as the laws 10 of external freedom do not depend on material circumstance, but the degree to which any particular society is able to follow them is deeply conditioned socially, so Kant does not admit any particular emotional calculus into the determination of the principles of justice, but emotions can move us to act upon them. No one who rejects emotion could possibly have made Kant’s famous remark in the Critique of Practical Reason: “Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and reverence, the more often and more steadily one reflects on them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me” (5: 162; 269). The restriction on material sources of law is part of Kant’s system for the same reason that it is part of Rawls’s and every other liberal thinker’s: if normative principles are to justify coercion, they must apply on the truly universal basis of reason rather than the material and particular ground of emotion (for the most trenchant of the many critiques of this view, see Young 2000). Thus, while Kant, like present-day students of politics, is interested in empirical advances in the human sciences, he does not accept that new knowledge of politics could alter basic principles of justice. Students of politics should attend, then, to the Kantian solution of separate standpoints in the study of human life, one for each ruling logic. Political life is hard to understand and hard to construct rules for, just because many of the most important aspects of politics exist at the confluence of these two spheres that Kant calls the realms of freedom and nature. New empirical work on the genetics of partisanship, the evolution of cooperation, or the epistemological quality of democratic public opinion may add important insight into our ability to realize moral-political goals, but it cannot, in principle, resolve disputes about the moral rightness of political principles. How, then, should students of political theory approach their subject, existing as it does at the intersection of the realms of freedom and nature? Kant would not recommend seeking a unified science of politics that would apply a single set of regulative principles to the investigation of all elements of political life. Reality, Kant argues, must itself be a seamless whole. But human seekers of knowledge are merely limited rational beings, forced to use their inadequate senses, understanding, and reason to come to terms with themselves and with the world. The nature of our knowing apparatus forces us to analyze the world as if it contained two spheres of existence: of freedom and of nature. That we must see the world this way does not mean that it “really is” divided, and in fact some things about the world throw us hints, as it were, that our division is artificial. Kant mentions the presumption of agreement we make about claims of beauty, and the existence of self-sacrificing revolutionary sympathizers, as pieces of evidence that the two spheres meet. Bridging freedom and nature remained an object and a puzzle to Kant up to the end of his productive career. In epistemology and in aesthetics, he offers some suggestions, if not for a resolution, then for a means of getting on with the problem. But in his political work Kant makes a sustained argument for the contingent separation of the normative and empirical spheres. For example, he calls for a free sphere of public discussion of political principles, isolated from the empirical interests and power differentials that characterize everyday politics. This isolation of the public sphere from what we would call private interest gives arguments in the public sphere their legitimacy, and ultimately their power to motivate change over the long run (as unjust practices gradually become indefensible). While Kant argues that publicity has concrete if indirect effects on political events, the study of these effects proceeds according to different principles from those of the study of the arguments themselves. Thus a political theorist guided by Kantian principles would attend to the history of conceptual change and to the dynamics of politically relevant discourses. These would be studied under a regulative principle that assumes, for the purposes of the investigation, that agents are freely making arguments under specific discursive conditions, even if empirically we have good 11 (Foucauldian and other) reasons to doubt that this is always the case. Kantian interest in discursive dynamics would guide “well-disposed” students of politics to the study of institutions that might encourage the latter’s proliferation and effectiveness. For example, political theorist Jane Mansbridge has argued for the importance of protected enclaves for identity communities in which activists create the innovative concepts that are sometimes taken up in the public sphere (Mansbridge 2005). Similarly, Kant’s favored mode of reasongiving, free expression of moral principle in the public sphere, depends on a particular set of contextually specific institutions. The inhabitants of the “republic of letters” conduct their arguments via a network of coffeehouses, literary journals, pamphleteers, and even (Kant hoped) protection of intellectual property rights, without which their reason-giving in public would not be possible (Laursen 1986). The particular set of institutions that protects enclaves of discourse varies by context; students of politics should investigate the institutions that protect such enclaves and thereby facilitate public discourse. Thus would Kantian political inquiry join empirical and normative questions: by looking at the conditions of possibility for the always partial realization of hypothetically given principles. Kant consistently describes political investigations in asymptotic terms (7: 166; 167; 8: 277; 280). On the other hand, present-day attempts to settle normative questions by empirical means – whether by communitarian fiat, psychological research, or neonaturalist declaration – join a long series of futile efforts to end that messy aspect of human coexistence called politics. There are interesting facts about politics out there to be learned, many of which have important implications for normative as well as for explanatory – and even predictive – theories of politics. But none of these facts, however laden with significance, will resolve questions of political justice for human beings who aspire to freedom and persist in their plurality. It would be pleasant, one might suppose, to live as sociable animals like bees and ants are supposed to do, peaceably working toward some universally accepted common good. In such a life, Kant warns, all talents would, in an arcadian pastoral life of perfect concord, contentment and mutual love, remain eternally hidden in their germs; human beings, as good-natured as the sheep they tended, would give their existence hardly any greater worth than that of their domesticated beasts; they would not fill the void in creation in regard to their end as rational nature. (8: 21; 111–112) A world in which empirical advances would settle normative questions would not be a world of perfect justice, but a world in which justice as a concept has no referent. SEE ALSO: Autonomy; Cosmopolitanism; Enlightenment, The; Epistemology ; Freedom; Human Rights; Liberalism; Liberal Theory ; Metaphysics and Postmetaphysics; Moral Law ; Perpetual Peace; Public Sphere; Race; Reason; Rebellion, Right of; Rule of Law ; Social Contract References Primary References in this entry are to the volume of the standard “Academy” edition of Kant’s works, followed (1) by the page number in the standard edition and (2) by the page number in the Cambridge edition (given below). (Academy edition volume number and pagination are given in the margins of the Cambridge edition.) Kant, I. (1995–) The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant in Translation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Secondary Arendt, H. (1958) The Human Condition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Bayefsky, R. (2013) “Dignity, Honour, and Human Rights: Kant’s Perspective,” Political Theory, 41 (6), 809–37. Bernasconi, R. (2001) “Who Invented the Concept of Race? Kant’s Role in the Enlightenment Construction of Race.” In R. Bernasconi (Ed.), Race. Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 11–36. 12 Doyle, M. W. (1983) “Kant, Liberal Legacies, and Foreign Affairs,” Philosophy & Public Affairs, 12 (3), 205–35. Kleingeld, P. (2013) Kant and Cosmopolitanism: The Philosophical Ideal of World Citizenship. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Laursen, J. C. (1986) “The Subversive Kant: The Vocabulary of ‘Public’ and ‘Publicity,’” Political Theory, 14 (4), 584–603. Mansbridge, J. (2005) “Cracking Through Hegemonic Ideology: The Logic of Formal Justice,” Social Justice Research, 18 (3), 335–47. Marwah, I. (2013) “What Nature Makes of Her: Kant’s Gendered Metaphysics,” Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy, 28 (3), 551–67. Strong, T. B. (2012) Politics without Vision: Thinking without a Banister in the Twentieth Century. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Young, I. M. (2000) Inclusion and Democracy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Further Reading Allison, H. A. (2004) Kant’s Transcendental Idealism: An Interpretation and Defense, 2nd rev. ed. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Ellis, E. (2005) Kant’s Politics: Provisional Theory for an Uncertain World. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Ellis, E. (Ed.) (2012) Kant’s Political Theory: Interpretations and Applications. State College: Penn State University Press. Flikschuh, K. (2000) Kant and Modern Political Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Goldman, L. (2012) “In Defense of Blinders: On Kant, Political Hope, and the Need for Practical Belief,” Political Theory, 40 (4), 497–523. Höffe, O. (2006) Kant’s Cosmopolitan Theory of Law and Peace. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Kuehn, M. (2002) Kant: A Biography. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. O’Neill, O. (1990) Constructions of Reason: Explorations of Kant’s Practical Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Ripstein, A. (2009) Force and Freedom: Kant’s Legal and Political Philosophy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Timmons, M. (Ed.) (2002) Kant’s Metaphysics of Morals: Interpretive Essays. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.