Do the Right Thing

ÔMetaphysics of Morals, Doctrine of Right,Ő S.43-62, pp.110-149.

ÔAnthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View,Ő Pt 2, Sect E, pp.164-176.

Mitch Diaz, Marcela Harden, Elize Manoukian

I kant do thisÉ

ok enough jokes, work time.

Discussion questions:

To Kant what does it mean to be a citizen?

Does man sacrifice his freedom to enter into citizenship and or be a subject of the state?

Of what aspect of KantŐs theory of the state are you most critical?

What does Kant see as the best constitution?

What is KantŐs view on punishment?

Are KantŐs arguments largely inductive or deductive?

What would Kant say about the authority of the state?

pg. 110 - people can only participate in something that is in accordance with ŇrightÓ if they are bound together by a constitution- juridical condition

            - Kant firmly believes that only through a constitution can people do what is right.

            The common interest of all its members in existing in a juridical condition is called the commonwealth.

international right leads to the  right of a state of a people, this is called the cosmopolitan right

Section 43

Public right

International right

Cosmopolitan right

Section 44

Public coercion through laws is necessary because human beings are malicious and bad,

Before a public legal condition can be established, individual people and states canŐt be secure against violence from one another - because what each person believes is good may be different from what others believe.

We need to enter into a civil condition (pg. 112).

The concept of ŇmineÓ and ŇyoursÓ is the same in the state of nature except under the civil condition one can exercise these rights

Section 45

a state is a union of a number of people under laws of right - measures every actual union in a commonwealth

Every state has Three powers: unified will in three persons (trias politica)

1) Sovereign power resides in the legislator

2) Executive power resides in the ruler

3) Judicial power resides in the judge

law of the sovereign will, minor is the command to act according to the law- subsumption under the will of the sovereign

conclusion: adjudication- determineŐs whatŐs right in the case.

Section 46

* To Kant what does it mean to be a citizen?

The united will of the people can legislate.

people who are united for legislation/ will of the state are citizens

Just because someone is not an independent citizen doesnŐt mean that they donŐt have the freedom and equality of a human being.

lawful freedom- obey no law than one to which one has given oneŐs assent

civil equality - no one among the people as oneŐs superior whom one does not have the moral capacity to legally bind him

civil independence- own existence  + powers not to others, but to oneŐs own rights and powers as a member of the commonwealth,

Ňcivil personhoodÓ - you represent yourself in legal matters


Only the ability to vote makes you a citizen.

citizenship with the ability to vote is independent of being a member of the commonwealth

*active vs. passive citizen

wage laborers, women, canŐt vote

anyone whose existence is preserved not through their own means but by the protection of others - no civil personhood

dependence on the will of others still makes them human, BUT

not all are citizens , but they  are subjects of the state

Section 47

Does man sacrifice his freedom to enter into citizenship and or be a subject of the state?

offices of state  imply relation of general sovereign (the united people)

A person doesnŐt sacrifice part of his innate external freedom to enter into a state.

            - This is different from Locke

Man emerges from wild, lawless freedom in order to find his undiminished freedom in a legal dependence (JURIDICAL CONDITION) - arises from his own legislating will

Section 48

- the 3 authorities in the state compliment one another

they are subordinated to one another- each has its own principle- but does so under the will of the one superior to it.

through the unification of these three- subjects are granted their rights

the judgment of the supreme commander or highest judge is irresistible and irrevocable.

Section 49

Kant lays out the set-up of his ideal government.

            - It seems like he is looking for a system with check and balances.

regent of state- moral person who the exec power is attached: he appoints magistrates- he orders people and magistrates

government that also legislates is despotic

patriotic gov- not a paternalistic one (most despotic of all), but one who treats subjects as members of a family and citizens according to laws of independence

each citizen is not dependent on the absolute will of another.

*the sovereign of the people (legislator) canŐt be the same as  the regent - legislator is subject to the law and obligated to the sovereign

regent can remove him from office but canŐt punish him

sovereign nor the ruler can be adjudicators

-three different authorities by means of which the state has its autonomy

-the well being of  the state consists in their being united

the well being of the state is is the condition of greatest harmony of the constitution- w/ principles of right, a condition which reason dictates through categorical imperative.

Note- The well being of the state isnŐt the same as the welfare and happiness of its citizen (this happiness can be attained more readily perhaps in the state of nature or even under a despotic government)

*Is it problematic that the well being of the state doesnŐt put the citizens first?

pg. 117 - 128

Kant talks about the different roles of people within this ideal government.

the origin of supreme authority isnŐt open to examination by its subjects.

people must be under a general legislating will, - canŐt judge in any other way than the head of state wills it.

ŇAll authority comes from GodÓ is a practical principle of reason - obey the existing authority

sovereign has no compulsory duties regarding subjects, only rights.

subjects can complain but they canŐt resist pg. 118

canŐt resist or resist the commander in chief unless he breaks consitutional laws

the one who restricts the authority of the state must have at least the same amount of power as the one he is restricting

***There is no lawful resistance of the people against the head of the state. Juridical condition is possible only through subjecting oneself to a general, legislative will

-no right to rebellion- this is high treason

to be authorized to do so requires a law

commander renders judgement with force of law

sovereign acts as a regent and despotically

the people have freedom and rights to the extent that they are dependent on the minister

pg. 120 a change in the constitution can only be carried out by the sovereign himself through reform, not by people through revolution- if it happens it only effects exec, not the legislatve

thereŐs no active resistance allowed in limited constitution- doing so would be an act of executive authority, itŐs onlly a negative resistance (refusing to comply with demands to administer the state).

when revolution succeeds- people must be good citizens + submit to the good order of things, canŐt refuse to obey authority.

-monarch canŐt be punished for his earlier administration

pg. 122- land is supreme condition under which its impossible to have external things as oneŐs own, all rights must be derived from the sovereign. The people as subjects belong to him  as supreme commander

necessary unification of private property under one public and general possessor  in order to determine particular property, according to the principle of division under concepts of right.

Supreme commander can have no private property, no estates for his private use- this would make him private - robs the state of all freedom- this land distributively belongs to the people.

if the supreme commander owned something this puts him in a situation in which there would be no judge to arbitrate

- there  can be no complaint that property was taken from someone as possesions lie in the opinion of the people

supreme commander levies taxes on private owners according to acquired ownersship of the land. he can demand services etc. - you can take loans if the state might collapse

-supreme commander manages state economy / finances / police - preservation of the state- no association that can influence public welfare of society can be kept secret -must reveal constitution to police.

Commander can levy taxes to preserve the state to aid the poor etc.

the government can require the wealthy to provide for the poor who cannot provide for themselves. - through taxes on property

profit produces danger to society

the poor should be cared for through means of legal levy

the state doesnŐt have the right to arrange inner constitution and  church affairs according to what it sees best/ command worship

state has right to keep the  religion away from the political commonwealth

state has the right not to allow within church conflicts to disallow the endangerment of harmony

if the people canŐt decide it, neither can the legislator

maintaining the church cannot come at the expense of the state

pg. 125-156

commander can distribute offices that entail employment for compensation, distribution of offices of dignity

award rank based on honor

each official can rise from a lower to a higher office

offices of dignity can make an office holder into a member of a higher class w/o special servies.

nobility is inherited through male descendants- woman returns to the class of common citizens

*what the people canŐt decide about itself and its fellows the sovereign canŐt decide about the people.

pg 127. - no one can be a person in the state w/o dignity - citizens lose dignity through crime

no one can bind himselg to a dependency

subject can only obligate himself to  complete work that is specified with regard to both type and quanityy as a worker. a land serf loses his personhood

a crime renders one a personal subject.

serfs canŐt be claimed as property because of the costs of raising it- this duty falls upon the master.

pg. 128 - 134

-penal right- right of commander vis-a-vis his subject to punish him for crime.

-highest state authority canŐt be punished- one can withdraw himself from his rule/

private crime is a civil justice, public crime is a criminal justice

crimes can be divided - base character vs. those of  violent character - public crimes endanger more than one person and the commonwealth

juridical punishment is imposed only for a crime - humans can never be treated as a means to the ends of another.

one must be found punishable before one can draw some advantage from this punishment.

* - Penal law is a categorical imperative. - cannot free oneself of punishment: for if justice ends thereŐs no more value for mankind.

pg. 129-public justice must use the principle of equality - whatever evil you cause someone you do unto yourself.

- Only the law of retribution (repaying like with like) can determine the quality and quantity of punishment.

            - Steal from me, you steal from yourself.

            - Kill me, you kill yourself.

- Talks a lot about the death penalty - favors it.

            - Eye for an eye.

For thereŐs no equality between crime and retribution unless the murderer receives a death sentence.

only death sentence is proportionate with the inner maliciousness of criminals

pg. 130- the nature of the human spirit: values honor more than life itself

131- death is the best equalizer before public justice

Justice- judicial authority according to a priori grounded laws wills death for crimes of murder.

sovereign can impose punishments other than death penalty.

punishment is not what one wills

the social contract doesnŐt contain that one can punish oneself and dispose of oneŐs life at his own will.

execution and adjucation of justice are unified in one person

-maternal infanticide and murder of a fellow soldier in a duel are punishable by death.

children born out of wedlock are born out of protection, outside the commonwealth

the categorical imperative of penal justice remains, legislation is at fault for the motivation of honor in the people.

-right of pardon is a right of sovereign- he can do so only in the case of harm to himself.

Section 50

-province is not part of the empire, but a possession of it, must honor the motherland

1. The subject has the right to emigrate, taking only his movable belonging

2. The ruler of the country can promote immigration + settlement of foreigners- as long as it doesnŐt deprive subjects of land.

3. In case of a crime that causes danger for the state- the ruler can banish/deport subjects to a country where he canŐt enjoy citizen rights.

4. the ruler of the country can also remove a subject entirely from a domain, making him an outlaw within his own borders.

Section 51

The head of the state is only  a thought entity representing the people,if a distinct person is lacking who represents the will of the people.

*The form of the state is either autocratic, aristocratic, or democratic.

-The autocrat is the sovereign, the monarch only represents it.

-The aristocratic form of state has 2 relations- 1. nobility among legislators, making up the sovereign 2. the relation of the sovereign to the people.

-democratic form of state: unites the will of all in order to make a people, then uniting the will of citizens in order to build a commonwealth. Over this is the sovereign, which is this united will itself.

What is the best constitution?

the best constitution is the one through which the state administrator is made into the best regent

Section 52

- one canŐt arrive at the time when civil society began

mutiny = overthrow of all civil-legal relations/ right

transition into a new constitution demands a new social contract, the previous one has no influence

it must be possible for the sovereign to change the existing constitution if itŐs not compatible with the idea of the original contract while still preserving form essential to constituting a state.

the state cannot change from one form to another: ex:aristocrats merging into a democracy,  this gives too much choice and discrepancy to the sovereign.

- old empirical forms dissolve into the rational form making freedom its principle.

* -coercion under the condition of freedom is required for a legal constitution of a state

* pg. 137- every true republic can be nothing other than a representative system of the people.

-as soon as a head of state also lets itself be represented, the united people doesnŐt just represent the sovereign, it is itself the sovereign.

-subjects derive all individual rights from the sovereign

Section 53

the people is born from one common mother (the republic) - whose citizens are all equal and do not mix with those who are unnoble

laws of states in relation to one another- international right. A state in the condition of natural freedom (constant war), has the right to wage war, and compel the other to emerge from the condition of war.

international right is concerned with the relation of individual persons belonging to another state.

Section 54

International right

1. States in relation to one another are in a nonjuridical condition

2. This condition is a condition of war.

3. A league of states according to social contract is necessary, not to intervene in statesŐ domestic difference, but protect against outside attacks.

4. Association must imply no sovereign power but only a cooperation (an alliance) - to prevent the condition of real war between states.

Section 55

We must derive a right from the duty of the sovereign.

Section 56

- in the natural condition- the right to wage war is the allowed way for a state to pursue its right vis-a-vis the other state.

a state uses force if threatened (arming for war) provides grounds for prevention.

active injury gives grounds for the right to wage war, and includes retribution without seeking compensation from the other state.

Section 57

Punishment takes places in the relation between commander and servant.

Section 58

The subjects of a conquered state, following a war, canŐt lose their freedom as citizens within the conquering state.

Section 61


- A voluntary assembly of various states that can be dissolved at any time, not an     organization that is based on a state constitution.

- Only through a congress like this one can the idea of public right of peoples be realized → disputes over civil manners; things to be resolved in the courtroom.

Section 62

- The idea that the world can create a universal, peaceful community is a principle of right.

- People have a right to enter into this community → this is the cosmopolitan right.


Duty: To assume that the moral law in us is deceptive and would bring about a loathing wish to dispense with all reason and regard oneself as thrown in together with the other classes of animals as part of the same mechanism of nature.

pg. 164-176

- Human beings have a character that they create for themselves.

- Humans have the capacity of reason → this leads us to become a rational animal.