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Freedom under the law: right and revolution in Kant's theory of justice

Mallard, Alison (2011) Freedom under the law: right and revolution in Kant's theory of justice. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis addresses the "air of paradox" that continues to plague Kant's absolute prohibition of revolution. In seeking to identify the source of this contention, I investigate a possible inconsistency within Kant's Doctrine of Right as a doctrine of external freedom. Taking my lead from Christine Korsgaard's idea of ―perverted justice‖, I explore the idea that states can exist that undermine their own purpose, in their denial of the freedom which is their end. Establishing the possibility of perverted justice takes us into an inquiry into the nature of Kant's moral theory as a theory of freedom, and specifically, the particular kind of freedom that Right takes as its end. I take the contrast between the ethical and juridical domains as my point of departure, defending Kant's strict division between the two domains. In doing so I defend the moral status of Right against commentators who exclude it on grounds of its external nature, arguing for a conception of practical freedom that is broader than the internal freedom of autonomy, and hence can include Right under its scope. From this I offer an account of external freedom as acting in accordance with the Universal Principle of Right, which is nothing more than the constraint of one's choice under universal law. In conclusion, I argue that Right (justice) cannot be frustrated in the way that Korsgaard's idea of perverted justice suggests, due to the formal nature of external freedom. Obedience to positive law cannot deny external freedom in the way she suggests; rather, our constraint under law is constitutive of our freedom as the end of political society. There is therefore no inconsistency to be found within Kant's Doctrine of Right between the idea of external freedom as the end of Right and his absolute prohibition of revolution.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2012 Alison Mallard
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JC Political theory
K Law > K Law (General)
Sets: Departments > Government
Supervisor: Flikschuh, Katrin

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