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Innate right in Kant: a critical reading

Flikschuh, Katrin (2022) Innate right in Kant: a critical reading. European Journal of Philosophy, 30 (2). pp. 823-839. ISSN 0966-8373

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Identification Number: 10.1111/ejop.12707


A now influential reading of Kant's statement of innate right in the Doctrine of Right interprets it as affirming a basic right of each to freedom of choice and action. This reading treats the innate right as foundational to Kant's entire philosophy of right—all other rights are said to be derived from the innate right. I call this the ‘free choice’ reading of innate right; while it enjoys considerable intuitive appeal, it is contestable on textual and systematic grounds. I show that the free choice reading (a) conflates Kantian external freedom with liberal negative freedom and (b) that its foundationalist assumptions about innate right conflict with Kant's critical method of justification. I go on to offer an alternative interpretation of innate right as conditionally affirming subjects' capacity for legal accountability, the real possibility of which depends on that of acquired right. Far from supplying the basis of acquired right, the possibility of innate right thus depends on that of acquired right. I close with some remarks on the merits of reading Kant's innate right critically and hence, counter-intuitively.

Item Type: Article
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Additional Information: © 2021 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Divisions: Government
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
J Political Science > JC Political theory
Date Deposited: 22 Sep 2021 16:06
Last Modified: 12 Jul 2024 18:12

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