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ECPR Futures Lab 2020

The Application of Principles to the Empirical World in Kant’s Doctrine of Right: A Reconstruction of the General Structure of Kant’s Legal Theory

Political Theory
 
Ethics
 
Liberalism
 
Normative Theory
 
Theoretical
 
Presenter
Ewa Wyrebska-Dermanović
University of Bayreuth
Authors
Ewa Wyrebska-Dermanović
University of Bayreuth

Abstract
The rediscovery of Kant’s Doctrine of Right resulted in numerable and fruitful attempts to apply Kant’s position to current affairs. The other side of the coin of this blossoming research is the resurfacing problem of defining clear boarders of what in Kantian texts needs to be considered as rational core of his theory and what is merely a theoretically less significant consequence of particular political situation of 18th century. My claim is, that in order to be able to adequately apply Kant’s ideas and concepts to 21 century problems, the method of application of his rational principles to the world of experience need to be reconstructed. This will not only bring about the core structure of right but may also determine, which elements of Kant’s legal theory are contingent to changing empirical data.
I recognise two levels of such application, which consecutively determine the rational core of Kant’s right and secondary structural divisions that emerge from contingent data about political history of mankind. The aim of the article is to investigate the fundamental steps of Kant’s application of the rational principles to human condition on the first level. Firstly, I argue for the strict dependence of Kant’s legal doctrine on his moral theory, which is necessary to justify the innate right to freedom. What follows from an innate right in conjunction with human condition is the necessity of using external objects of choice, which justifies the emergence of acquired rights. Nevertheless, these rights, as particular legal titles that limit the freedom of others, cannot be reconciled with universal freedom in the state of nature. Therefore, from the establishment of innate and acquired right, there arises the necessity of public right and entering the civil condition. I conclude the paper by setting the scene for investigation of Kant’t secondary application level.
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