Kant's Social Contract Theory


Note that the sub-title of the essay says ďcontra HobbesĒ

Note how much Kant agrees with Hobbes.What do they disagree on?


The key question for Kant is Rousseauís question:How can we be free?The answer is by coercive laws that are legitimate.But Kantís account of legitimacy is very different from Rousseauís account.


Theory of right not power (echoing Rousseau).


Natural state is more a state of war than a state of peace.


Civil society is based on laws.Right in the law is based on freedom, not happiness (utility).Why?

††††††† The problem of a priori (based on reason alone) vs. a posteriori (based on experience) determinations of right.


No slavery in civil society.Why not?













Consequentialist accounts of legitimacy or justice or rightness base legitimacy or justice solely on some non-moral conception of well-being or happiness.


Anti-Consequentialist accounts of legitimacy or justice hold that legitimacy or justice is independent of any non-moral conception of well-being or happiness.


Nonconsequentialist accounts of legitimacy or justice or rightness are not consequentialist and not anti-consequentialist.They allow that a non-moral conception of well-being or happiness is relevant, but is not the sole determiner of legitimacy or justice.


How would you categorize Kant's account of political legitimacy?What about Rousseauís? What about the other accounts we have read?














Right (legitimacy) is not based on the terms of an historical contract.Why not?


What is the original contract for Kant?An idea of reason.


What is the test for legitimacy?The hypothetical consent test.


What type of decision making procedure for legislation is included in the original contract?


How does Kant's public will resemble Rousseau's general will?How does it differ from it?



















What principles does pass Kantís hypothetical consent test?

These are the terms of the original agreement:


(1) the freedom of each member of society as a human being;

Protected sphere of freedom defined logically, not in terms of well-being.

Freedom from paternalism.When is a law paternalistic?

When it is aimed at promoting to good of people, even though they themselves don't think it is good for them.

Why are legal solutions to collective action problems not paternalistic?

What are some examples of laws that seem to have paternalistic aims?


(2) the equality of each member with every other member as a subject of the state.

What is a subject?

Equality before the law implies no hereditary legal distinctions.









(3) the independence of each member of the community as a citizen.

What is a citizen?

Who counts as a citizen and who does not?

How is legislation adopted?

By a majority vote of those delegated as representatives.

Why doesnít Kant require unanimity?

[Hint:He does in the hypothetical agreement.]


Think of these as constitutional provisions, which constrains all other laws.





















Is the head of state bound by the laws?


Is there a right to rebel?


What inalienable rights do subjects have against the government?

Freedom of expression ("the pen", includes some freedom of the press, freedom of religion.


Should they be regarded as rights, if they cannot be coercive"(564)?





















Kant on Moral Progress


Why is Kant optimistic about moral progress?


Why does Kant believe that war will be eliminated?How will it happen?[Hint:Will it result from a "balance of power"?]