Kant on civil self-sufficiency

Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie (forthcoming) 


Kant distinguishes between ‘active’ and ‘passive’ citizens and holds that only the former are civilly self-sufficient and possess rights of political participation. Such rights are important, since for Kant state institutions are a necessary condition for individual freedom. Thus, only active citizens are entitled to contribute to a necessary condition for the freedom of each. I argue that Kant attributes civil self-sufficiency to those who are not under the authority of any private individual for their survival. This reading is more textually grounded than the dominant reading, which understands civil self-sufficiency as concerning economic relations alone. I further argue that Kant was interested in relations of authority because he was concerned to eliminate certain forms of corruption. This indicates that Kant’s contested distinction between active and passive citizens was a response to a key problem of any account of public lawgiving.

Active citizenship and Kantian republicanism

Humanity and Personality in Kant, Georg Olms Verlag (forthcoming)

Kant’s account of citizenship has been the subject of some critical attention in recent literature. This literature has focused primarily on his criteria for distinguishing active from passive citizens. Active citizens, Kant says, are those members of a state who are entitled to introduce and maintain the laws of that state. Passive citizens are protected by those laws, but they do not contribute to them. Understanding the criteria for active citizenship is an important task given the centrality of the state and its laws in Kant’s political philosophy. However, the result of the focus on this aspect of Kant’s views is that the nature of active citizenship itself has not been sufficiently discussed. This is unfortunate, since an examination of the rights and duties associated with active citizenship provide us with resources for better understanding Kant’s republicanism. In this paper, I contribute to remedying the lack of attention that has been paid to active citizenship on Kant’s account. In doing so, I hope to show that Kantian republicanism is compatible with a number of different modes of participation on the part of citizens.

 

Whence 'honeste vive'?

European Journal of Philosophy (2020, online first)

 

Kant’s characterisation of honeste vive as an unenforceable duty of right owed to oneself poses two systematic problems: it conflicts with Kant’s claims that (i) duties of right concern the external relation between distinct individuals and (ii) duties of right are externally enforceable. Both of these claims speak against the possibility of a duty of right to oneself. This paper addresses this interpretative problem. Regarding (i) I suggest that while honeste vive is a duty owed to oneself, the content of the duty concerns one’s interaction with others. Regarding (ii) I maintain that honeste vive is a general duty of right, and such duties are not externally enforceable. This view both allows for an understanding of the structure of obligation in the Doctrine of Right as a whole and forces us to reconsider two central aspects of Kant’s concept of right—namely, that all rights are externally enforceable and owed to others. Not only does honeste vive belong to the Doctrine of Right but understanding the way in which it does can illuminate the significance and scope of duties belonging to Kant’s political philosophy.

Kant on welfare: 5 unsuccessful defences

Kantian Review, 25:1 (2020) 1-25

This paper discusses five attempts at justifying the provision of welfare on Kantian grounds. I argue that none of the five proposals is satisfactory. Each faces a serious challenge on textual or systematic grounds. The conclusion to draw from this is not that a Kantian cannot defend the provision of welfare. Rather, the conclusion to draw is simply that the task of defending the provision welfare on Kantian grounds is a difficult one, whose success we should not take for granted.

Kant on citizenship

DPhil thesis, University of Oxford, 2019

This thesis argues that Kant has a systematic account of citizenship. Kant claims that citizens possess three attributes: (i) freedom, (ii) equality, and (iii) independence. Each of these attributes specifies a relation between the state and its members. Freedom is the institutionalised version of the innate right to freedom. Citizens possess freedom when the state only permits its members to perform those actions that are compatible with the innate right. Equality is possessed by citizens when each member of a state bears the same relationship to the law as every other member. Finally, independence is the attribute possessed by members of a state who are not under the authority of any other member and who contribute to the state.

 

There are three kinds of rights in Kant's political philosophy: the innate right to freedom, acquired rights, and public rights. Each of the attributes of citizenship provides us with additional resources for thinking about one of these rights. Freedom sheds light on the innate right by specifying the requirements of that right in the only condition in which it imposes constraints on the actions of others (i.e., the state). Equality sheds light on acquired rights. This is because the implications of Kant's account of the equality of citizens primarily concern those rights. Kant's account of equality tells us both that privileges associated with a certain status cannot be hereditary, and that great material inequality is permissible. Independence sheds light on public rights. Those who are independent are active citizens. Active citizens are free and equal members of a state who contribute to the existence and the laws of that state. In doing so, they also contribute to a necessary condition for the validity of the rights of each.

Child Euthanasia Should Be Allowed

Opposing Viewpoints: Euthanasia (2015) Gale: Cengage Learning. 35-40.

 

This short chapter argues against three prominent arguments against child euthanasia: (i) the slippery slope argument, (ii) the no-capacity argument, and (iii) the undue pressure argument. Each of these fails to justify a ban on child euthanasia. 

 

A Kantian Defense of the Right to Health Care

Kantian Theory and Human Rights (2014) Routledge. 70-88. 

 

This paper deploys Kant's notion of the `idea of the original contract' in order to defend the provision of both preventative and emergency health care measures. I address objections to these measures stating that they are freedom violating and that Kant's Doctrine of Right is not the appropriate Kantian text to appeal to in order to justify them. 

Other writing: 

Should Vegetarians Consider Eating Insects?

Alternative Diets (2015) Cambridge: Independence Educational Publishers. 32-33.

Let Needs Increase so that Rights May Prosper

Noumena: Undergraduate Journal of Philosophy 1:1 (2011) 68-90.

Narrative Ethics and Decision Making Capacity

Arete: The Undergraduate Philosophy Journal of Rutgers University 3:1 (2010) 37-48.