A Kantian Perspective on Political Violence

Thomas E. Hill

in Respect, Pluralism, and Justice

Published in print March 2000 | ISBN: 9780198238348
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597688 | DOI:
 A Kantian Perspective on Political Violence

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This essay is a critical examination of Kant's strict opposition to political violence even against corrupt rulers. Granting that Kant's arguments are inadequate to support his extreme position, in order to develop a more reasonable Kantian position, the essay develops the framework for moral deliberation suggested in earlier chapters, a framework that combines core ideas from each of Kant's formulations of the Categorical Imperative. Though only a perspective for deliberation, not a decision procedure, this arguably rules out the most extreme positions, prohibitive and permissive, about political violence and revolution. Despite Kant's personal beliefs, although the values implicit in his fundamental principle fail to support easy, inflexible solutions, they impose strong presumptions against lawless coercion and killing, undermining social order, treating persons as dispensable, underestimating options, arrogant faith in one's own judgement, and reckless simplicity in political thinking.

Keywords: Categorical Imperative; Kant; political violence; revolution

Chapter.  17237 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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