Kant's Politics in Context
Kant's Politics in Context is the first book-length contextual study of Kant's legal and political philosophy. It gives an account of the development of his thought before, during, and after the French revolution. The book argues that Kant provided a philosophical defence of the revolution's liberal ideals while aiming to avoid the twin dangers of anarchy and despotism. Central to this was a concept of freedom as non-domination, constituted by legal rights and duties within a state. The close connection between freedom and the rule of law accounts for the centrality of the state in Kant's liberalism. Understanding Kant's political philosophy poses difficulties that can be resolved by paying attention to the high stakes debates in Germany during the 1790s, of which it was a part. Kant's theory of politics was not the result of dispassionate academic reasoning, but crystallized in polemical interventions against his conservative and radical critics in debates about freedom, political rights, revolution, and international law. By revealing the neglected origins of Kant's political concepts, this book explains their meaning as well as their relevance to current debates in political philosophy.