ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

Back to Paper Details

Law and Maxim, or Kant on the Impossibility of the Right to Revolution

Open Panel

Abstract

Kant’s stance on revolution very often seems to frustrate his to-day philosophical adherents. He firmly denies any right to revolution, and repeats that revolution should always be condemned. I have two aims in this paper. First, to show in what way Kant’s view on the impossibility of the right to revolution is grounded in his ethical project. Secondly, to offer an alternative supportive interpretation of Kant’s strong disapproval of revolution (but in accordance with the spirit of his thought), which I do by means of Kant’s conception of maxim. In a nutshell, on my proposal revolution is unsuccessful candidate for the object of any maxim for at least two crucial reasons. First of all, ‘revolution’ as a notion is semantically vague (it is not clear what one takes revolution to be), and second revolution essentially belongs to the class of facts that are not to be in the hands of agents, so it cannot be the object of one’s will. These two observations lead me to conclusion that in Kant’s theory revolution occupies that conceptual domain I would call ‘the normative gap’ – it can neither be the object of rational deliberation, nor can it be rationally willed because it is indefinable in the language of the moral law.