Talk by Christoph Horn

Christoph Horn:

Kant’s Political Philosophy as a Theory of Non-Ideal Normativity

Abstract: Kant’s political philosophy confronts its interpreters with a crucial difficulty: it is far from clear if (or how) Kant, in his political theory, makes use of the Categorical Imperative (CI). It is notoriously demanding to clarify the relationship that exists between his political thought on the one hand and the ethics of the Groundwork and the Critique of Practical Reason on the other. There are basically two interpretative options available: the more traditional dependence reading and the somewhat provocative separation reading. Following the first option, the normativity included in ‘right’ (Recht) is immediately derived from the normativity of the ‘Moral Law’ as we know it from the 1780s. According to the second reading, Kant’s legal normativity is substantially different from what we know as those foundations and procedures on which the Categorical Imperative is based. In this article, a third interpretation is defended that tries to combine the advantages of the previous two. In the political realm we are, according to Kant, dealing with a somewhat different type of normativity which still shows some connection with the moral law. It turns out that Kant’s political normativity is not just a kind of ‘applied ethics’. Kant has formulated a non-ideal form of normativity, according to which ‘non-ideal’ means: a weaker version of normativity which can be lived up to by human beings, which is appropriate to specific situations and which is intended for a long-term effect, namely that of a historical Development.

Christel Fricke:

Kants Moral Justification of the Duties of Right and the Immanuel-Kant-Problem

Christel Fricke, CSMN, Universität Oslo, Norwegen

Abstract: The ‘Immanuel-Kant-Problem’ originates in the fact that the duties of right of a citizen of a state, as Kant justifies them in his Metaphysics of Morals, are incompatible with her moral duties. Every moral agent is requested to do her moral duty and to act for the sake of the moral law. But it is the highest duty of the citizen of a state to act in accordance with the laws of this state, whether these laws are morally right or not. Violations of legal obedience are punished, and Kant even allows for capital punishment of some crimes.
Why does Kant claim nevertheless that every rational agent is morally obliged to become a citizen of a state and to obey the laws of this state? I shall propose a new version of the dependence reading, arguing that Kant’s reasons for this claim can be found in his view of political sovereignty, of the nature and origin of the sovereign’s authority.


The guest lecture and response are an integral part of the course FIL 4600.

Nevertheless, it is open to all interested, including students.


Christel Fricke
Published Jan. 25, 2017 12:09 PM - Last modified Mar. 23, 2017 10:12 AM