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Unconditionality: Normative Force and Possibility

Sorin Baiasu
Keele University
Sorin Baiasu
Keele University
Open Panel

Abstract

The debate between Kant and Constant on the nature of political norms has important implications in political theory, in particular implications concerning social justice. Constant''s view of the conditionality of political norms stems from his idea of a representative political system, a system through which he hopes to resolve the tensions between personal and political freedom. My aim in this paper, however, is not to explore further the arguments in the debate; rather, I will provisionally assume that Kant is right and that political norms must be unconditional, and I will try to probe his view by examining the possibility of such norms. In the first part of the paper, I will examine some of the most influential alternative accounts of unconditionality, such as realism and constructivism, and I will present several reasons why they are unsuccessful as accounts of political unconditionality. In the second part of the paper, I will explore Kant''s account of the possibility of unconditionality and I will examine some of the problematic implications of the Kantian account.