Building: VMP 9 Floor: 3 Room: A316
The requirement to leave the state of nature and enter a civil condition with others is central to Kant’s legal thought. The rule of law is the solution to several normative problems arising from our human condition on earth, that is, the fact that we are confined to living together with a plurality of persons who are equal in status and whose external actions can affect each other. Kant argues in several places that coercion is only legitimate under the civil condition.
The omnilateral character of public institutions, that is, their ability to bind all subjects equally by virtue of the reciprocity and representative function of the rule of law, creates authority to legislate, adjucate and enforce judgments of justice. The rule of law is also the Kantian solution to the problem of war. Therefore, expanding the rule of law beyond national borders as to encompass international and cosmopolitan relations seems particular urgent from the perspective of Kant’s legal and political theory. Further, contracts and trade relations, including transnational trade, require international institutions.
Kant nevertheless seems to give up this fundamental requirement of his legal theory. This apparently is because his idea of national sovereignty seems to preclude a strong international legal order with coercive powers. Should we argue that this is inconsistent and focus on this end-point? Or should we consider not simply the rule of law, but how global orders can involve progress toward the rule of law? What can help further the rule of law in absence of a coercive international legal order? What role do provisional rights and duties in the state of nature play as we move towards a situation where disputes are solved by law? Does Kant’s emphasis on the “spirit of commerce” in discussing cosmopolitanism indicate that factors like money and trade, rather than coercive law, can help to uphold some sort of global order, or further progress to it? Can economic trade help "order” the globe? How might analysing the different purposes Kant had in mind when writing about cosmopolitanism in his political writings and other writings help us reflect on the relationship between cosmopolitanism and natural law? This panel will consider these and other questions on what is required to instantiate a global order and how we might envision progress towards the rule of law.