A Kantian Perspective on Political Violence Author(s): Thomas E. Hill, Jr. Reviewed work(s): Source: The Journal of Ethics, Vol. 1, No.

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THOMAS E. HILL, JR.

A KANTIAN PERSPECTIVE ON POLITICAL VIOLENCE

(Received and accepted 5 June 1996) ABSTRACT. Rejecting Kant's absolute opposition to revolution; I propose a modified
Kantian on political from Kant's basic for reflecting ideas violence, drawing perspective some dubious in earlier papers, the but abandoning Developing assumptions. suggestions a model the core ideas of each of Kant's that combines for "moral essay sketches legislation" formulas complete of the Categorical procedure, decision not for deliberation, Imperative. Though only a framework and permissive, this excludes extremist prohibitive positions, a

about political violence. Despite Kant's hopes, the values implicit in his fundamental principle fail to support easy, inflexible solutions; but they place strong presumptions against
lawless coercion and killing, underestimating options, arrogant as dispensable, social order, persons undermining treating faith in one's own judgment, and reckless simplicity in

political thinking. KEY WORDS: categorical imperative, ends in themselves, justice, Kant, Kantian, kingdom
of ends, political, resistance, revolution, violence

on the morality of violence has long been position is a strong and principled advocate of "law and order" puzzling. That Kant is clear, and any of the forms of the Categorical Imperative, especially seem to provide basic arguments the humanity formula, against murder, wanton destruction of others' property, and rape, mayhem, kidnapping, Immanuel Kant's the like. By declaring human beings "ends in themselves," the humanity seems to prohibit calculated in the lives of human "trade-offs" are said to have dignity, an "unconditional beings, for ends in themselves formula worth" that "admits of no equivalent." to any revolutionary to scheme designed sharply opposed the lives of many in the innocents now to save or enhance upon first reading of the Groundwork's eloquent passages as ends in themselves, many students assume that Kant was and incomparable This sacrifice future. seems a few In fact,

he deplored war, Kant of course, he was not. Although a "just" war. And, whereas we might expect him to deplore capital punish ment, he is adamant in insisting that there must be no pardon, clemency, or even alternative punishment for murder.1 No matter how idealistic

about persons a pacifist. But, in endorsed killing

the

1 Kant admits two possible exceptions, neither of which is likely towin much sympathy
for Kant as humane regarding issues of life and death. The cases deserving of death

?

The Journal of Ethics 1: 105-140, 1997. 1997Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in theNetherlands.

106 killer's motive

THOMAS E. HILL, JR.

may have been and even if, in the special case, no deterrent to is served, "he who kills must die."2 If it is morally purpose permissible case of capital punishment and in the contribute to state-endorsed violence, how Kant can justify this from his basic just wars, one naturally wonders one cannot help but suspect that any argument moral principles? Further, to premises to justify such (state endorsed) would that violence appeal to the state, at least in violence in opposition would also justify political Yet Kant, as we know, insisted that very special extreme circumstances. in revolutionary activities is always wrong. participating the in Kant's views about the use of violence provide to simplify, I shall focus upon a limited of my discussion, but, background set of cases of violence, with politically concerned motivated violence as being grossly when one's government it is perceived against unjust. Kant's position and arguments There are several reasons for discussing These tensions the matter is of some historical about this. First, of course, interest, for or explain the tension in Kant's views may shed some how we reconcile basic moral principles, his political light on how to understand Kant's or both. Second, anyone aiming to develop the most plausible philosophy, version of "Kantian" unresolved over many seeing more or political philosophy needs to face up to the and tensions actual work in Kant's contradictions, problems, in fact prove to be occasions for Such problems may years. moral clearly modifications that need theory (broadly) and perhaps most
should not impose

plausible moral/political and followers.3 Third,
where courts nevertheless

into any in the spirit and tradition of Kant identified important, the tensions
penalty are when a soldier kills

to be

introduced

the death

another in a duel to defend his honor and when a mother kills her illegitimate baby (it is
unclear a mother whether killing Kant thought her newborn these fully deserved infant, saying to be called Kant that reveals the illegitimate or good sense, (like contraband also known M. In the case of "murder"). more cultural (deplorable) as it were, infant "has, stolen that "no the commonwealth decrees can being remove married,, University Prussian can the [I.

than humanity prejudice into the commonwealth ignore mother's Kant, its existence shame when

merchandise), He that she gave (trans.) of Kant's

so adds, birth

... and

its annihilation/'

it becomes of Morals, after citations

without

The Metaphysics in brackets pagination.

Gregor to some

(Cambridge: works refer

Cambridge to standard

Press, 1991), pp. 144-145 [336]]. Hereafter I shall abbreviate this work by "MM" The
numbers Academy 3

2 MM,pp.

142-143 [333-334].

In an earlier of when,

issue

(assuming, that paper sanction

how a plausible Kantian address the paper, I discussed type theory might if ever, the state is justified lethal violence in employing terrorists against to be grossly the terrorists' In for argument, immoral as well as illegal). activities set aside or other a Kantian the question ethics might in some whether forms of political violence [See "Making Exceptions instances without

I simply terrorism

Violating the Principle: Or How a Kantian Might Think about Terrorism," in C. Morris and R. Frey (eds.), Violence, Terrorism, and Justice (Cambridge: Cambridge University

as a framework how one might develop this "legislative for perspective" about the issues of political violence. and I speculate about some thinking that Kant's formula of the principles preliminary arguments subtly policy that might steps towards project is to take some Kant's own inadequate seeing whether. careless about of someone fit. and I suggest reconstruction. 196-225 (Hereafter I abbreviate the first entry for "violence." which suggests means to injure or abuse. and looking for a reasonable for addressing them framework ethical interest. clarifying independently special terminology. despite political violence. wanton thrashing play with explosives. Kant's basic moral principles. Reprinted in my Dignity and Practical Reason in Kant's Moral Theory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. in an epileptic etc. regarding this. stabbing. In Section III. my might support a more reasonable." p. 1991)]. of physical of value. but cannot by itself serve as a moral decision procedure. Collegiate use of physical the intentional force as a says "so as to injure or abuse. In I review several problems with Kant's universal law formula Section IV. pp. But it is sufficient for present purposes that political violence is intentional. and forcibly dragging against that Press. including Kant's own. Imake a few comments My plan to be. This does not seem appropriate for violent the violent storms. application out several extreme views on political violence. THE IDEA OF POLITICAL VIOLENCE AND THE BEST CASE SCENARIO What in general typically connotes exertion is political violence? Violence or abuse persons or things force tending to injure. I consider briefly draws from all of his formulas. I discuss what is needed to derive answers law formula of the Categorical famous universal from Kant's that a reasonable of it seems to rule suggesting Imperative. I. more emerge. shooting. against people someone whipping. flexible that seem to persist even on a sympathetic is in some developed regarding and applied. and political writings may be suggestive of ideas of to delineate In Section I. The dictionary Dictionary. 4 Webster's New . at least for purposes of this paper. Finally. I sketch a working of Kant's basic moral point of view that conception in Section VI. In effect. 1306. 1991). a helpful respects humanity supplement In Section V. what I take "political violence" In Section H.A KANTIAN PERSPECTIVE POLITICAL ON VIOLENCE in Kant's moral within more the issues work are likely to be reflections of Kant's of deep conflicts 107 in common debates Kant's general If so. I review briefly a sample of Kant's actual arguments against and argue that these do not provide adequate reasons for political violence the strong position he takes. damage. that it employs latter as "DP/?")].4 Paradigms of violence include bludgeoning. is as follows.

I assume that the primary aim is not merely profit. conquest. of riots. without objecting to that practice. etc. involve the group. but. or moral norm. qualify: consent) he removes life. suppression torturing private of criminals and suspects. his brother's knife when the slashing of a surgeon's (with full a live person's healthy kidney for transplant to save to win I take it. to a legitimate state can permissibly in response exercise counter-violence the (stipulated) unwarranted switch my focus to violence violence national force Iwant to of terrorists. there is also international citizens' files. to natural environments. of course. the ones of which we most naturally think. embargoes. HILL. or some other thing was only meant to say what of "violence" involves injury or damage to persons "without value. boxing. as in assault. has a political purpose. and to severe mental abuse is some political its purpose in order to draw attention extend goal. For the violence to be "political. breaking into of witnesses. valuable. terrorist etc. one for present purposes. Iwill also set aside violence used by citizens within instead on violence borders. to personal prop person's will. however. public executions. assassination of foreign rulers. for example. personal and the like. deemed connoted.108 THOMAS E. to gain or assert a perceived institutions. instances of state use of violence. There is also. kidnapping. concentrating violence to tend to injure or abuse. sabotage. Often violence is a "violation" of a legal erty. personal temporary invasion to bolster or political violence of many kinds. To simplify. JR. But this is not always required because football. murder. are widely thought to be and legally permissible. which celebrate certain violent acts. and hockey. torture. rather than (as before) across used by the state. rape. These cases. realistic standard nor a necessary In an earlier paper I discussed is a form of political terrorism. It would be difficult violence precisely right. bull fighting. political to remove all doubts about borderline cases. But use of violent means against prevailing government some legal and some there are. to discredit to gain the power to make and enforce laws among a down a government. to animals. the typical case valueless garbage dump. used against the state. Often unquestioned morally approval of the end that otherwise might leads us withhold the epithet "violent" from activities for example. but that is neither a enough grudge. . political to characterize etc. Many to moral similarities known the term "violence" between this and physical violence. revenge. of course. but at least in part to gain or retain control of legal and to express an ideology. which and entirely on the extent to which but my focus was explicitly violence. violence etc. I shall restrict my discussion to physical violence. as in war. Some might quibble that one might do violence by up an utterly blowing initial characterization Surely. a political party. Now." but my is "typically" or property. Political violence. or official power. undermine a ruling party. Needless to say. forcible detention etc. not. to bring an election. to force repeal of a law." in each of these activities. cases. mayhem.

less oppressive very tyrants regime would result from the change. rejected. the motives stability the desert of the victims. political easier is an unlikely scenario. like some philosophical an impossible or utterly fanciful one. and clear title to legality of the and its laws. wasteful. Cases become morally more difficult "best case" for political this paradigm violence is altered along various I admit. these features. reform. I suppose. to celebrate political revolutions from which we have profited. would significantly and their cohorts. persistently. The in guarding against causing cautious would be well intentioned. All nonviolent all reasonable exhausted. in death. 5 which Here a Thomistic not working I am obviously with "laws" are not even laws. innocent Since Kant to fix our Kant's case takes an extreme easy thoughts on a relatively actual position was. controlling Just as it is easy. Bloody. dimensions: means. for political violence? It would be politically or loss of vital resources. government. scenario to in its power and resolve and increasing past crimes against humanity avenues of reform would have continue on the same path. but it is not. case that highlights how extreme the opposite extreme be. without It would resulting be directed against a government other political that was (or institution) and grossly unjust and oppressive. regime alternative predictable kinds of damage. or other powers. protestors more damage than necessary. unjust grossly account of "law" according to . There appeals and compromises that the proposed is both evidence violence be strong convincing and likely to be successful in producing favorable necessary change. the only ones liable been would to suffer be corrupt. "counter-examples. on historical the let us assume though (for simplicity) violence is illegal. it is also easy to over-generalize to political violence by focusing attention on random slaughter of hostility terrorists. the best In outline. Finally. and political stability based on respect for just likely the proposed violence may be laws would then become possible. are not so one-sided. degree of oppression. it would have motivated violence against property. of heinous guilty deeply. undeserving from the damage. mayhem. of expected of effectiveness. A more just. Some cases are obviously people by crazed ideological to evaluate than others. to justify if the ruling regime's initial claim to authority was dubious or moral grounds. ineffective terrorist horrors easier are already before our eyes on TV daily. The hard cases. What would itmay be useful stand on political violence." as of course. likely the reformers.5 This particular combination of circumstances. The property owners.A KANTIAN PERSPECTIVE POLITICAL ON VIOLENCE 109 a state for political purposes at odds with their laws. after many successful years.

Declaration Louis his XVI state. and unjust there is reason wars. of Kant's senility have been puzzled of Kant's position is clear Schopenhauer and most sympa by it ever since. pp. authority may legitimate and the in the Categorical reason. to the Estates General and Kant. pp. There was much Revolution of 1776. expressed Imperative ly do. which state authority. independent constrain what any governmental boundaries. the American pp. . 142n [154n]." 8 MM.9 Contrary that all rulers are morally bound to have "inalienable rights" for a coercive Revolution Revolution that citizens enough. 262 and pp. is a notable exception.M." Contest both in Reiss of these though (ed. the American to Thomas Hobbes. HILL. Practical and rationally. 182ff. None however." Writings. of revolutions in the (so-called) British promote progress." authority or political or geographic of any conventions Natural rights. p. over of right.' this means men can be legislators and judges. However. it evidence considered thetic commentators The content state command rigoristic as well as later commentators. to hope and See. 1970. his contemporaries.). revolution.110 THOMAS E. the Limits of Reason Alone (New York: Harper & Brothers." sovereignty pp. 1960). also H. Hudson (eds. 9 Kant "Theory and Practice. 84-85. does not are unjust. KANT'S ACTUAL STAND ON POLITICAL VIOLENCE In several to civil late works Kant His discusses rebellion. "When that when 1991). universal morally principle any individual or group's commands. for example. MM. a "right" to revolution. p. Kant: Political Writings. God to obey God rather than men. 133 [321-322] and p. 'We ought in Reiss (ed. 176 [371]. revolutions. 29]: commands.7 Nonviolent criticism of unjust rulers is a to be encouraged. pp." sometimes 10 See MM. 267-268. pp. "The and of that thought then abandoned the Faculties. "glosses.8 the outcomes and something Although generally right some revolutions seem to are always uncertain in advance. JR. "Postscript. 55-65 [229-241]. take precedence.H. One must in itself and so some "passive respect. and the French of 1688. Kant says. In T.). Kant: Political Writings (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. statutory into conflict with duties which or transgression 130 [310]. V.. The state power is "the united will of the people. II. Reiss. concerning the former must yield precedence alone can be the judge. "Post script" in H. Kant: Political observance to the latter. invoked severe position Arthur in his later years. 261-622. which regarding reason prescribes whose unconditionally.). Korsgaard. beneficial. I believe.10 that even the most and expect cruel 6 Moreover. Reiss (ed.). retract to rebel Kant's against of main is that point.6 not obey a resistance" to do what is evil to tyranny may be justified. Religion within 7 C. only come it is said [Acts. asserted reportedly of Independence (falsely) does not that James affirm II "abdicated" and He that also yielded "voluntarily" See Reiss. Kant held that the fact that the ruler's laws contrary to the natural rights freedom equality citizens. and embarrassed and resistance criticism from authorities. Kant held of 1789 to admire. respectively. Greene and H. legal and of it is always wrong.

all in Reiss 50-53. pp." and 130. juridical. 108-114 Writings. and the moral freedom oppressive. and his "natural standards (despite Kant refers law") were state power "legitimate" or Recht." system explanation . 79-87." enforceable "right" which others have a moral but it is clear that Kant intends to say. one has no right and tyrannical one believes the state authorities or "actively. that duty. Unlike Aquinas the gross injustice of ruling powers as a condition that can deprive them of "lawful" authority. Peace. are indirectly as well. Kant: Political pp." (ed.). "Perpetual 12 and Kant. duties.12 virtually "Right. Kant: Political pp. Reiss. pp. that one lacks a legally enforceable right to rebel but also that one lacks to rebel. spirit contributing authorize 11 citizens to progress to disobey in history those laws. and MM. concerned with justice Kant for calls in Kant's "juridical and but this does not mean that they are "merely legal" duties. when Kant was elderly and not long after the bloody reign of in France. no matter how tyrannical. backed by moral one do nothing active to overthrow or undermine a legitimate governing power. in revolution were written condemnations of participation vigorous 1790's. History. Kant does not recognize lawful ruling power. a moral on the rulers imposes obligation to repeal the laws [MM. Kant's persistent public position was posthumous that it is a perfect. Chap. 147-175. Despite note hinting the contrary. These tended more most in the terror international violence that events. neither present revolutionaries murderous a later legitimate authorities have any right to punish the villains.). enforceable law. and the consequent to solidify the conservative of peace-loving tendencies followed. people he hailed the republican of the revolution and welcomed it as many. 184-190. murderous the lawful regime may be.A KANTIAN PERSPECTIVE POLITICAL ON VIOLENCE counter-revolutions to world ual progress the good news. is not really news to of course. no matter how self-serving. 8. the bad news those familiar with Kant's political to be. tyrannical. (even itmerely though unlawful). No matter how oppressive writings). 13 or first part of MM The duties in the Rechtslehre. to resist violently to rebel against a and others. of the Faculties. for Hobbesian." "Theory in Reiss Practice. Again. 129-133 [318-323]]. "Postscript. One is that Kant's understandable.11 All that is peace (which. and law. pp. 127-133 p. several prelimi does Kant take such an extreme Why an absolutist nary points may help to make his defending position even though they do not justify it. unlike throughout Europe. and it is at least to Kant's credit that." (ed. not only of what constitutes to legitimately and legal duty to respect." See Kant's "Contest "Idea for a Universal pp." or to conspire to rebel. references. But now for 111 to grad contribute throughout history will eventually and just republican government. 265. pp. [316-323].13 stand? First. all juridical duties "ethical duties" For fuller see DPR. and nor a regime may have been. Writings.

14 divided view The line of argument. efforts. The procedure taken to mean that we can determine is highly dubious. JR. reverts to Hobbes' Kant bound arguments not accept by standards of contrary Sovereignty. by a questionable nourished. Kant's main against Hobbes' justice. since the Sovereign This. argues abstractly for all deserving people. however. The one case it might bind a Sovereign is if. which he claimed optimistic to be grounded in reason. use of reason. not to endorse it. and. the performance See T. and happiness or to achieve ? ends are possible "can. independently investigation. or even leads one generally dutiful (would-be) to try. I. in of how people data to be set aside are descriptions and the "empirical" fact behave. ithas virtually negligible force. but just as a factor that helps to see his thinking as more humane than it otherwise might appear. Imention Kant's optimistic faith here. by the gradual overcoming prejudice. education. e." he argues that these desirable so. and Original else. style of moral for us what our major duties is. available.g. means to the improvement Reform would most of political institutions." performe in principle of course. gratuitously. that progress towards more just republican gov ernments (and eventually "perpetual peace") could and would be achieved and public fool of superstition. however." but Hobbes Sovereign "the Fountain as well as to anyone made their Covenants made. 14 T. ishness by the increasing were he believed. affairs. This may make some sense of empirical are. pure reason can determine argument. how warmly they feel about each other. not by violence from the masses against their of course. rational criticism. Further. etc. from "ought" implies justice. 15. that the head of state is not morally rulers can and do commit heinous does acts of injustice. It is a form of argument at least that we ought to believe that makes sense in some limited contexts but is obviously if it dangerous pragmatic intended result. of the other's a Sovereign a promise is not an not be harmful to himself and the other party has already fulfilled what they promised (so that suspicion noncompliance issue). when the "duties" are in the abstract form of the Categorical Imperative. applies is not bound in practice. Free speech. . HILL. Chap. without investigating are and how likely each is to achieve what our options its empirically that it is our duty to seek peace. "That men of Justice. of which would is for to the by the social contract. though.112 THOMAS E. This belief was That top down. Hobbes' third law of nature. "Ought" implies "can" that we cannot accomplish certain ends by certain from solid evidence means we should be able to infer that it is not our duty to do so. likely come from lawful rulers. significantly. when more substantive about political duties. Hobbes. Leviathan. Kaint to ignore strong evidence the efficacy of our against should cut both ways. Kant had the Enlightenment's faith. nonviolent and public dialogue.

to contain that is.. would be a condition (though poten lived without and moral) people agreements. 57 [231].A KANTIAN PERSPECTIVE POLITICAL ON VIOLENCE to the natural rights of the citizens. a to be authorized to resist. it is still absolutely unpermitted and punishable to resist it. the provision that it is not the highest and thatmakes the people. autonomous. A state of nature. since a people must be regarded as already united under 113 legally have no right. Here is a sample.repugnant. p. (MM. and most of us. to rebel. to hindrances have a moral . So I participate a more will only remark on the arguments briefly before trying to develop the issue. roughly.. will find that conclusion . to develop the opportunity mutually respecting to turn back lack rights (Recht) actually beings. I suspect.For if the people should hold that it is justified in opposing force to this constitution. and to the supreme authority. p. .. fail to establish concede that Kant's Commentators arguments generally his strong conclusion. and similar. passages would require a long and detailed not serve my purpose here. trustworthy as rational. 130) The reason a people has a duty to put up with even what is held to be an unbearable abuse can never be regarded is that its resistance to the highest of supreme authority legislation as other than contrary to law. principle as is possible each person is entitled to as much "external under liberty" a general system of laws that accord the same liberty to all. and indeed as abolishing the entire For a legal constitution. however faulty.that to in revolution is always immoral . as subject. p. a general legislative will in order to judge with rightful force about the supreme authority. (or "ought to be" Recht) determined of freedom. but still citizens or morally. tially security. which would result in a supreme will that destroys itself. In a state of nature they would but they would have proto-rights enforceable."16 15 MM. The background of the case against revolution is typical social contract some new twists.15 This carries as a necessary the idea that violations of the principle may and corollary and so coercion as "hindrance should be prevented. with in which deeply self-interested order. 176) To unravel all aspects of these. human The fundamental of justice is. p: 131) And even though this constitution may be afflicted with great defects and gross faults and be in need eventually of important improvements. For this we need for rethinking promising Kantian "perspective" to basic elements inKant's moral theory. one would of freedom. which would exegesis. This is self-contradictory . by one and the judgment sovereign people wants to be the judge in its own suit. by the rational ("natural law") principles equality. itwould think that it had the right to put force in place of the supreme legislation that prescribes all rights. p. prior to legal theory strategy. is warranted If one were in a state of nature.. the highest would have legislation people same over him to whom it is subject. that independence. 16 MM. it cannot andmay not judge otherwise than as the present head of statewills it to. 56 [230]. (MM. (MM.

Like Rousseau. to the unacceptable of a state of nature. HELL. by gross inequalities in order to have a lawful order. would be a political which every question of ("external") and coercion can be answered liberty and effectively determinately. L. This. provides to be always aimed is supposed (perhaps. and that is presumed already vested in the head of state that revolutionaries to resist.) seems (New York: to shift Pocket Books. will to make the de facto and the people" authorizing ruling power Kant believed that the only laws on their behalf.114 THOMAS E. if necessary) to enter a civil order. religious superstitions. Rousseau. for example.. as if) all citizens in a social contract. J. an alleged actual or tacit "promise" to obey the ruling powers." if fully public spirited. of wealth. by divisive head of state. [311-19]. by a powerful authority to be acknowledged all citizens. Rousseau. there must be a concrete person (or group). an unhealthy mix. on the one hand. then. not making concerned factual errors. unambiguously. Kant: Political [1762]. are drawn. who between an . not the general will at the "common distracted and envy generated parties.). to join with others (forcing obligation. to the authority of the "general will" submit their private wills irrevocably the standard of justice for laws. Kant also supposes that. Writings. once established. we understand the "united will" propose as an ideal moral standard. that is presumed always to judge and speak unambiguously for the united will of citizens. a pragmatic not merely reason. the judgments of order presupposed the existence over and taking precedence which must be treated as definitively binding of everyone else.19 to the head this set up. or would. 73-87.g. But if. What from as resting on the "united matters is the "idea" of a state. what citizens do. for "lawfulness" requires backing of the united will of the people. Kant's belief was not based by presumed viduals for he argued that the very idea of a legal entirely on empirical grounds. will (e. then why should we suppose (with Rousseau) that this can be identified with the actual legislation of any real person or 17 MM. How that actually comes about them. by voting) for the good of each and all. Crocker (trans. 123-130 pp. No political conclusions is of litde significance. it seems there can be no lawful resistance Given of state.JR. by definition) In effect. for of the people. 18 See 19 pp. Rousseau construed the general will as good. 1970).18 But. of a supreme authority. I say idealistic to contrast "unambiguously" and a concrete idea of a general with will. where indi alternative lawlessness of enforce state in judge for themselves when to use force. like Hobbes.17 Like Hobbes. The Social "Theory Contract and Practice" in Reiss (ed. the judgments are evident The influence of both Hobbes Rousseau and Jean-Jacques Kant held that we must act under here. the idea that (it is just together.-J.

A KANTIAN PERSPECTIVE POLITICAL VIOLENCE ON 115 fallible. Neither undivided this special ruling power to enforce nor the limited conclusion that follows that its always implies the de immoral. "Kant's Utopianism. and often corrupt. will a general policy of under enforceable legally right (Recht). contravene the united will of the people provide any decisive moral against revolution? Kant thinks i. esp. we wonder.e. or act under the idea. pp. for there to be for any reason. That is. strong. 66-75. See my DPR. Given Kant's justice and (legally enforceable) full-fledged definition of justice and rights (as tied to enforceability by an absolute and undivided seem absurd to to destroy the only suppose right for legally enforcing available mechanisms is anything. then why.e. stopped were if they can prove the "justifying conditions" obtain (i. the political condition necessary mining. on the other hand. revolutionaries. authority). that one could have a legally enforceable It does an actual the law. that it is otherwise. To make For example. although more remains to be said. they had "apparently ." Chap. it looks from our brief sampling of Kant's arguments that it should have remained an open question for Kant whether it is ever morally right. on Kant's very special definition of depending construing what I called justice and rights. Moreover. in more on apparently if but only if one was thoroughly conscientious and convinced good evidence that the system had a legally unrevisable.21 This." that unsuccessful can once and arrested. would 4. in discussing both the facto "legal" system definition of morality and the idea of a pre-legal society. ideal conditions. imperfect world.. however. but in fact easily that constitution replaceable. it depends on Kant's the presence of justice and rights (Recht) as presupposing "full-fledged" his claim seems plausible. act. tendency in our sense).. and it is foolish to group? People are obviously If. indepen acknowledges dent of any legal system. can we imagine a legal system a "liberty" that allowed the legal system right to try to destroy a piece with my in several claim that Kant has a papers in the sense of drawing conclusions about how illegitimate should act from accounts of how more ideal persons.. to rebel violently against a tyrant.20 as an ideal of justice but is a mere label the "united will" is not understood to their and acceptance for the habits of obedience citizens have accorded de facto should the fact that revolution rulers.. and just (in a foundations nontechnical 20 My we. with would reason to suppose it is "self-contradictory" that one could justly. Kant himself the validity of moral standards.)? good evidence" legally avoid "thoroughly . to try to destroy in one's country. was oppressive to many and injurious to almost all? Here I am not supposing that the system that the conscientious have a "claim right" to the system's revolutionaries acknowledges full protection and cooperation in its revolutionary activities. a very limited conclusion. 21 some further qualifications the argument be needed. So. But is it inconceivable that the system could acknowledge their limited liberty right by laws providing punishment conscientious. here is of complaint to "Utopian" thinking. That would be absurd. may tight. or even unjust (in a nontechnical sense). backed by reason. presume. rights.

and appear in the Groundwork in the main course of argument. Kant encouraged regard to the formulas for which he supplied brief examples. In the Groundwork.. Kant.) (New York: exegesis. Groundwork of the Metaphysic moral of Morals. and other political writings. pp. JR. it provides precedents for some untenably rigoristic flexibility in applying Kant's basic moral ideas as well as some clues about that need to be taken into account. Harper & Row. of current practices of duty are relevance is acknowledged. specific finds Kant's is a large project. p. If one KANT'S UNIVERSAL LAW FORMULA basic ideas about moral or at deliberation plausible. 89-91 [421] (New York: Harper & Row. as we have seen. 70 [402]. of a more complex picture. than the universal law formula. sense in abstraction from these scholarly that my general interpretations remarks some controversies. HILL.116 THOMAS E. This late work is hardly a model of clarity and rigorous argument. 89-91 [421-424]. pp.23 Although universal concern lies behind Kant's HJ. 1964). p. briefly how treat Kant's formulas of the Categorical Textbooks unfortunately issue for ourselves. complexities I am influenced by this later work but do not attempt to give detailed textual law formula. will make universal la. In what follows. then one must go back again to the basics of Kant's obedience in an effort to rethink the more theory. m. maxims general empir about human nature bear much weight. and an important priority is developed between (legal matters of considerations of justice and (nonenforceable) ly enforceable) virtue. types more finely divided. 70 [402]. however. and here I can only This such an account might go. Nevertheless.e. the and to distin law formula. When Kant turned almost as a digression to "applications" of the basic moral law in a systematic and serious way. attempts to law. he presents in The Metaphysics Morals i. illustrative purpose. Paton (trans. 1964). as a decision sketch Imper procedure or wrong. it contains arguments stands. ical and teleological assumptions moral serves a guiding the the idea of hypothetical ideal agreement function. Let us turn briefly to Kant's famous few would deny that some important 22 I. 23 I shall Here guish of nature. some quite unconvincing for and. but I diverse.22 But the examples have a very limited. The humanity to much more formula is appealed are less prominent. to justify his rigid stance on but rejects Kant's least promising. 95-98 [427-430] (Hereafter I abbreviate this as simply "Groundwork"). . ative as if they could easily be "applied" to answer all questions about whether separately a particular act is right at least with this optimism. suitably reconstructed." without pausing to "universal latter referring laws explicitly are unbelievably their relations." hope what Paton The speak calls loosely formulas of "the I and of both.

law formula. require that one be ready to universalize as the maxim too little to be plausibly that guides regarded a particular act. independently in a morally relevant way. of course. is that the formula proposes a thought acts by submitting the "maxim" of each act to a test. Many famil intuition. but none. has been fully successful. under a sympathetic interpretation." . How about the willingness for political ends us something about the agent's dispositions. depends upon the maxim descrip we lack sufficient standards for determining. or maxim. is a very by Kant's occasional loose and unfortunately students. and Kant sometimes? That tells would but that willingness. is not simply or even as "the maxim of using violence violence" to a type of activity on allude vaguely These for political purposes. as a policy that one could follow.A KANTIAN PERSPECTIVE POLITICAL ON VIOLENCE the difficulties formula. that has tary proposals rarely been the situation. and why. a maxim common might tendency allusion be "to use violence to achieve my it is etc. Typically see themselves what agents this requires some finer specification of the details of one's circumstance. how to describe maxims to Kant's formula can be met by insisting that the iar counter-examples is something other than the critic supposed. to assess the morality of problem. among as "the maxim to maxims of lying. however. encouraged example. would The relevant maxim of political violence. Until recently. But "real" or "relevant" maxim if defenders of the formula the maxims repeatedly by redescribing they are simply an outcome initially the maxim description with a view to achieving intuitive or in accord with other (unmentioned) fend off alleged counter-examples suspect that proposed. what policy is meant? to achieve political Is it the policy of always using violence ends? That to use violence is unlikely. Kant's defenders have shown great or supplementing the formula tomeet the objec ingenuity by "interpreting" The basic tions. features that make sense of one's engaging in described activity now but not at certain other times. For 24 This. involving and. I find. been repeatedly pointed 117 have of using this as a moral decision procedure out by critics. We need to ask. in the end I suggest that we turn to a later formula of the Cate Although gorical Imperative how the universal let us consider for a moment for application purposes. of moral tion. we naturally rewriting that is more aspects of Kantian theory. as far as I can tell. (Compare: Could to go to "I am willing and explains Texas sometime" be the policy I am acting on when I book a trip to San it says no doubt treat our problem "the maxim of political sense of to make need to be stated definitely Maxims Antonio?) enough as doing."24 but they are not stated explicitly which one might have a policy. though the outcome experiment. Now I think there need not be anything wrong with supplementing the procedure in this way so long as the supplemen are up front and defended.

. JR. (This need not render the test empty or worthless. etc. but rather that it is unrealistic the policy to that anyone. has the unqualified policy "always use violence to achieve political ends. Herman. to for there are often easier.. unless. rethinking when one's first attempts produce but bizarre results. no matter what the circumstances". HILL. of course.118 THOMAS E.. to failing to achieve my goal. and. clauses. and more likely effective means To be realistic. himself alluded to maxims in many vague ways exceptions and not to take seriously that honestly and conditions seemed of "building the possibility enough form part of our policies. that there are many morally ought to do will recognize. Chaps.25 Arriving account of one's maxim may require prior deliberation. of all other moral considerations. no matter how reckless. for a maxim detailed specification at once. of our proposed then that pops into mind will be the that the first act-description Barbara the same expect at the best (morally) most relevant way to express one's maxim. (1) "I will lie some to be a maxim. The Practice 7 and 10. moral decision it requires abandoning On reflection.) I independent procedure. that Kant will have exactly two "if" course......" is the form of the maxims times" is too indefinite regarding 25 lying that most of us act on and so should of Moral Judgment that every (Cambridge: such maxim be testing... (2) "I will never tell a lie" is a it is not a maxim that accu possible maxim but. that a policy or maxim must include a can simply refer to all of circumstance. faith in the formula as a simple... As evaluating we cannot the morality Herman points out. anyone seriously supposing to in a particular case will have a maxim of the form "I will use violence . to cost me nothing and predicted likely to be effective. I do not mean and I realize. less costly. and. and unless Similar remarks apply to maxims of lying. For example. that most people act on (or endorse on reflection). 1993). esp... in a anyone seriously engaging to determine what he or she to use Kant's guideline effort conscientious upon a little thought. political goals if the goals are of very high priority and the violent means are necessary. and_"26 achieve my political end if. and . in which political relevant features of the various circumstances violence achieve ends. despite Kant's example. reflection on one's other moral commitments." comparable This is not to say. Kant's "maxim of self-love" circumstances possible to is presumably the policy "always Reason) (in the Critique of Practical above to stating a do what best serves my own happiness." My objection in this simple form was not that this would of political violence maxim make to suppose too indefinite. can justify political violence that they assume. if there is any hope of acts by testing their maxims.27 Harvard University This Press. is B. rately reflects a policy and (3) "I will lie if. might be used. That is. 26 clauses 27 two "unless" of to imply. by the way. into the maxims" .

Constructions the subjective right is the prior notion. O'Neill. But turns on factors that are irrelevant both morally this maxim the case the intention. [O'Neill] and O. this reference [O'Neill] any to what some call limits the application of the maxim testing procedure on lightness. 112-117.A KANTIAN PERSPECTIVE POLITICAL VIOLENCE ON 119 not to say. to facts of the situation. bald. the maxim for example. in the process (as well specific applying some quite general but she requires be morally and that the details must relevant ones). Because of these and other. to avoid other problems It qualifications as policies for example. tourist everyone constraint were on willing the agent. the person's maxim could not contain lightness" to these facts.. breast-feeding the contingent For example. cit. spends considerable 29 as what good moral W^hat is "objectively be thought of. roughly. obese. 30 on Principle. Consider. to lie to such beyond a person on such an occasion no realistic imposes at hand. freckled-faced. that maxims.) favors to the test to quite maxims of deliberation." or doing what good moral judgment prescribes "subjective the factors the basis of the facts as the agent perceives them.g. will maximize utility. that both bear hunting hunting are illegal. acting on. the objective from judges. as the achievement is not defined of a certain outcome of what rational moral as something like the convergence understood the facts correctly. fully specified maxim. for the issue is unlikely to arise again. 1989)]. of of relatively changed context-definite maxims Press. arguably. unless supplemented to all sorts of familiar problems. the universalization That place. the idea of the objective in e. That proposal.28 are needed as well. Nell. Although rebel against her vegetarian these facts may be relevant to the "objective of her acts. the agent In some theories. the objectively utility) prescribe would (like maximum judges right act but rather if they "ground" general. on a full moon to lie to such a tourist at 2:37PM. For That is. O. Herman Cambridge (Cambridge: University (op. effort trying to work out how one can determine moral relevance. If willing in the first Tuesday then it seems one should find it easy to will of this maxim. life-guiding on Principle (New York: Columbia maxim-descriptions recent in a more in her first book book to a test of quite Nell. of impossibility their infants or having genuine French champagne to tell a lie to a short. and that she is driven to hunt by an unconscious beyond that she and deer need to father. cannot include reference anticipating Various seems of the act. of Kant's less obvious test from but a test her proposed reconstruction and of universalizing the process to the agent's formation serious problems. Acting pp. judgment right" may on the basis of knowledge are (whether of the facts as they actually would known prescribe of Reason to the agent utilitarianism right Kant. is what or not). Suppose a person is ignorant of the fact is about to shoot at a bear (instead of a deer). however. Acting [See O. that one is actually clear. that count as making one "unable to conceive or will" a maxim as universal law need everyone 28 to be circumscribed. 1975) University Press.29 As Onora Nell points out. right has priority. O'Neill specific.30 Furthermore. the subjective utility whereas right is what maximizes her perception of the facts. to test is always the most that the appropriate maxim leads carefully. as. typically. or underlying motives that are completely descriptions the awareness of the agent. .

Forster (ed. 50-52. but are progressively as well as in in later formulas of the Categorical revealed Imperative other discussions. of these permissibility be irrelevant. Because 31 This in effect is what Herman attempts and the same of Moral Judgment. Practice of Moral Judgment. That reason. As John when the universal only implicit suggests. interpretation. person independence Rawls special circumstances that should not be allowed to fuel his that he "can reasonably will" a universal argument policy aid to the needy. "can" and "cannot will" that abstracts from various be best determined from a perspective may differences For example. is not so much What matters but rather what individual one can reasonably will as a policy for everyone. Rawls. 86f.32 among personal are and obsessed with is rich. in this broad sense. pp. the fact that a individuals.). 1989). Philosophy. pp.120 for their anniversaries seems THOMAS E. T. taken for of institutions and norms against a background be looking for a consistent and at various levels of generality. O. The relevant conception of rational give self-serving to of refusing or reasonable required for morality. which Any reconstruction needs to draw from other aspects of Kant's theory plausible to fill out the conception These aspects in fact of "reasonable willing. See Herman. modified (ideally) each considered set. with policies. is not simply efficiency willing A further point to keep in mind is that one's aim as a rational and is not simply to find amaxim that appears conscientious deliberator morally as universal policy when considered reasonable itself. JR. self-sufficient. and others. "Themes in Kant's Moral in her can be very said rich for and stimulating The work. and. efforts Practice Korsgaard. Kant's Tran scendental Deductions however. what reason. and universal maxims that would be acceptable one background of existing social institutions and norms might not against be so when applied to a different of this. in the broad sense and acknowledges humanity requires autonomy that is especially in itself is an assumption important even though it is law formula is first introduced. HILL. reconstructive of C. . if need be. in the light of the others. A universal maxim with a broad view of the facts relevant to the whole granted without set of coherent question." The in E. old. the universal law formula itself is indefinite and open-ended. rejects this (Stanford. CA: Stanford University Press. Herman. in isolation from by other maxims. of averting a wide is crucial for purposes This qualification range of a respect it introduces in but of course (or exposes) counter-examples."31 are not neatly drawn together in any one place. revisable One should as a part of one set may not be when considered that appears reasonable as a part of another set. may psychological peculiarities to like for everyone to do what one happens irrelevant to the moral Similarly policies. O'Neill. Pogge. one's first stab setting. in each person as an end or instrumental reason. 32 J.

that especially Finding one cannot will a certain maxim as a universal law. implication it is to be expected that one then go back. to suppose there must be a simple fact of was "the maxim" this or that specified it. upon finding honest.33 There are at least two implications of this. acts might do not know lead one is that which the assessment even the matter. rejecting one of how one sees what is to be morally knows such relevant. finding that one apparently can universalize try. be a useful This complex the problem of . or can only "construct" an acceptable maxim to relevant reference factors one by omitting to overlook.34 I used to think that the countervailing reaches one's initial maxim until one finds practice of "backing up" to reformulate an acceptable one was subject to two objections: that it always revealed a reliance on moral "intuition" contrary to the alleged role of the universal law formula as a guide and that it opened the way for us to "tinker" with our maxim 33 34 Kant's is "the" on What One description. independently second is that. But the main policy. that policy If one cannot find such an account. one may do that sort universal cases. is to guide conscientious to review a number of possible maxims important modifying prepared that one them until one to do and why. suggested one maxim. from self-serving motives. one needs to ask why and consider. I suspect. of all other moral considerations. precedent in no way provides all the morally relevant materials for solving procedure diverse maxim it just gives the search a certain form. The first is that we need to abandon any pretense that the universal law formula. point of Kant's to applications at least. if the universal will at all. in a larger context. for anyone. fully can reasonably endorse can find some honest reflective of what too. whether formulas of the Categorical with Imperative. statement to suppose of the test seems that each act has exactly obstacle relevant description of past if we of what one does on an occasion. maxim. fool-proof moral decision procedure that can crank out itself.A KANTIAN PERSPECTIVE POLITICAL ON VIOLENCE at forming 121 a maxim and universalizing should not be taken as definitive. but only on the understanding unusual distinguishing factors. one needs to ask whether one's ability to do so depends taken for granted some morally dubious social conditions amaxim on first on one's having or attitudes that should be reformed. by is a simple. whether the blocking factor is morally significant. if its outcome is intuitively bizarre or suspicious. Or. to using the "back and forth" procedure here. in a bad-spirited effort to Herman's I say here owes much The Practice of Moral Judgment. concentrating Perhaps. Here the latteract would be permitted but the case might not for further cases that are similar in many salient ways. to rethink and formulate the maxim until one finally including one's other maxims. descriptions. The answers. regard deliberation on which account one it is prior to action. In other a modified. perhaps again in the light of many factors. acceptable of act. case by case. "wishes" then one must not do the sort of thing one initially proposed. despite whatever moral considerations there are. a policy statement that both (a) reflects an honest understanding to do and why and (b) one conscientiously of what one proposes judges to be a reasonable policy for the circumstances for anyone. is workable law formula first apply the test to an initial maxim and and again. or something that it is because of some quite similar. Here one might or act.

or revolution in violent shall never engage resistance. JR. breaking down doors) and forcibly that alleged a priori and a few equally guilty henchmen. And. assuming any surely in these conditions of what is morally relevant." Determining which task. to stop a murder if doing nothing that one could prevent in itself. be permissible this factor to be forbidden under one morally to a good friend. to carry out the coup is minor prop the only violence necessary certainly the ruler erty damage removing (e. despite its breaking is the relevant description begin to think about this. killing. the particular further conditions could be Obviously. and this is clearly necessary and authorization legal a more just. reasonable person. If an act appears e. e. negative point added. an order cases where to do something in itself immoral is not passively refusing imagine on what an option. we might draw from a sympathetic law for reading of the universal mula. but there are reasonable that needs ways to is no easy more there is much let us return to be said on these to see what inter pretative guidance. no matter how tyrannical and oppressive the ruling powers inMM like (Kant himself something apparently accepted we apply this to an instance of "the best case scenario" this). given this. political violence would prove unacceptable. HILL. violent is immoral then one would to violently the murder. we must pay attention to the many morally relevant . largely takes care of is morally suspect of "conscientious" from personal abstracting of reformulating and the "back and forth" procedure problem. conditions. But now it seems clear wrong." then it as well victim. have resist a state order not to interfere with 36 to make I want. All peaceful they may be" A to replace of just and moderate citizens the ruler without conspiracy is already underway.122 to "justify" what we that the requirement perspective the second maxims morally relevant still may account THOMAS E. The point is that the absolutist policy almost certainly cannot be justified for all conceivable variables. if any. in order to have any hope of taking into account all the is essential factors. described persistent oppression incessant torture.35 Suppose and arbitrary earlier. Now although matters." I suppose. rebellion. with a basic understanding 35 I am what not obey state orders to do here that Kant's concession that we must supposing one can to sanction in itself was not meant but perhaps is immoral violent resistance. to our initial problem proofs to the contrary fail (as argued earlier). that takes into complex maxim as another. including avenues of reform have been exhausted..g. stable.. "reasonable" from a reflection. What seems fairly clear is at least that two extreme policies regarding "I Consider first the maxim. and debasing of both citi rule persist. "stopping to save an accident a promise to a good friend.g. zens and foreigners. Imagine: Horrible.g.36 Now. turns out to be "immoral It depends in itself. For example.. advantages. against in my state. "breaking under another more a promise relevant act-description. and responsive is likely to establish Almost regime.

" Although justice and utility conflict). If one universalizes imagines necessarily worlds second. under the same undiscriminating violence. well-meaning. 123 rebellion.. trying unqualified to conceive then the possible maxim. to reflect this.) to result inmore justice and utility.. the upshot is a strong moral in constructing one's maxim pressure to be cautious and carefully qualified turn out for the best. as fallible agents. to declare what would happen if one were infallible and were allowed everyone one takes else when efforts will revolutionary the constraint of endorsing the maxim for all others seriously who will estimate outcomes for themselves. needs to read something the relevant maxim. The lesson is that we must be sensitive of different circumstances." Focusing briefly it only takes a little reflection on an example like this to cast just because doubt on Kant's attempt to cover all instances of revolution and political no matter how distinct. The problem. as a universal the maxim worlds law are of greater justice and utility. though one may justice and utility feel quite confident of one's predictions. is justified only in this (admittedly extraordinary) situation tionary violence on this case is useful that I call "the best case scenario. many for themselves an infallible may one when the former. from the deliberative standpoint one always acts on fallible estimates of consequences. hides the morally relevant factor that. for contrast. arduous task of distinguishing the range of cases where the rele vant factors are decisive such against political violence from those where violence is justified can begin in earnest. When . on which is that the maxim however. The other extreme maxim engage as more in political violence tomention. like this: "I shall it seems. and others. The truth is that. The relevant consequences if not for but often mistaken folk followed the maxim. So. Once this is acknowledged dimensions is clear that we prohi relevant and it assess all cases at a single stroke. is this: "I shall itwill result in more justice as well this leaves a range of cases undetermined (when to count as amaxim it is sufficiently determinate whenever Iwant utility.A KANTIAN PERSPECTIVE POLITICAL ON VIOLENCE could not will and revolution. an agent could act. against I should stress that the point here is not to suggest that revolu Again. in political I estimate it likely (to degree violence whenever engage ." This is not an insignificant change. ordinary. but if one universalized the one imagines must the possible worlds include qualified in which well-meaning revolutionaries generate nothing but disaster maxim. the absolutist maxim all violent resistance. One cannot reasonably that one is suppose of the consequences of political violence while others judge are what would happen be mistaken. then cannot morally the long. to various morally bition. we never know with much certainty that an attempted revolution will in fact result inmore ? and we know this.

above you assume to the idea of a state the context of nature. as a subject in an ongoing to commitment state. prohibition on rebellion. rationally accept the policy of no rebellion.37 But there are serious problems of unconditionally the moral possibility binding on Hobbes' it relies for another. ." other well-meant attempts. ignored this (morally) prior (hypothetical) of how legal By treating the issue of rebellion without prior examination that argument failed to take authority could arise from a lawless world. the right a social the only way to make they can escape and enforce that condition and create the political conditions necessary for higher moral relations is for all to completely and irrevocably as if all had everyone's of surrender and power contract judgments of justice to a civil authority. Given the lawless conditions of a state of nature and the untrustworthy nature of human beings in such a condition. Moreover. violence. reasons a civil order with an absolute to establish moral. A defender of Kant's absolutism. one has already made an irrevocable to the Sovereign's laws and judgment for immediate self (except yield in borrowing this argument. might argue as mention order. long after thing. some failed and some "successful. or rebel under conditions them to resist that they were left to judge would not in fact generate the stability needed and so. the good effects of a few celebrates History but it also records the horrors and injustices revolutions. though he failed as well as prudential.124 regarding political famous successful following Let me persuasive influenced follows: In your civil mostly universalizability but we need argument to go back THOMAS E. Since thatwould be the rational will of all people in such a condition. the initial institution of to act for them. dubious ideas that promises promises. Continuing ly sketched extreme the objection. About states and of ongoing was this Hobbes to recognize in a state of nature would that persons have right. it is jointly made acceptance of policies they would that allowed to obey the powers that be. actual citizens purposes. HILL. in the end. even it is not briefly a possible though objection. Not have not actually today 37 Notoriously the self-defense exception inHobbes is no constraint on the Sovereign. implicitly the idea of a social idea that serves certain authorize contract heuristic the Sovereign in Kant is not a one it presupposes seems parallel to that a Hobbesian been party to a state of nature. an appeal to the fact that. Kant's defender argument universalizability conditions agreement. account of the fact that the very existence of the state derives from that prior authorization. JR. despite the dangers tyranny. In a state of nature. still partly perhaps by Kant's a priori arguments against revolution. For defense). and it apparently applies only to fairly imminent lethal attack which death-averse human beings cannot be expected not to resist. real promise but a fictional having sovereignty. under duress are still morally binding and that later generations. namely. Now this argument note that the previous might for allowing rebellion in certain might give (on a certain reading of Hobbes).

morally Writings.how people will act state of nature as for every temporary transitional pre-social changes hands without legal authorization. pp. on a reasonable might be addressed. given the special conditions that is now Even 125 if itwere a rational commitment of a state of nature. in society) can hope for a Universal History. 46-47. in Reiss can never so human [See "Idea straight. it does not itly to that we are supposed itself specify the sense or standards of rationality context and outcomes on political suggest that we are not to rely merely on or instrumental rationality. Kant: Political . like Hobbes. it seems that the universal So far I have violence against the state nor any very as a means to pro of using such violence permissive. Other aspects of Kant's missible moralized of stronger.38 power IV. upon removal of a tyrant. is equally bad and that living in civil order for . REMAINING PROBLEMS AND THE FORMULA OF HUMANITY AS AN END IN ITSELF some problems in applying Kant's universal considered law some suggestions about how some of these problems formula and made constru that. For it is far from clear that the only possibility of regaining civil order. But there remain many problems with using the moting utility to encourage Kantians to hold law formula. Both will regarding of Kant's political idea so violence. nature we is like a crooked for over which piece of wood.). it is a commitment an absolute Further. falsely. problems universal sufficient absolute prohibition more a combination of Kant's formulas. seemed to assume. be reasonable carefully qualified policies regarding resistance and rebellion. that all anarchy. is for all to pledge never to resist civil authority or engage in political violence under any conditions.the same no deep difference to. rather than reaffirm open to reconsideration. anyone living in a more civilized world to consider commitment to more cautious. and elsewhere. unqualified policy and justice. Prominent hope for constructing is that. conception reason are only gradually unfolded in the later formulations of the Categor the fairly obvious ical Imperative. beyond Consequently. commitment. and then I argued merely law formula would warrant neither Kant's al." that people (ed.A KANTIAN PERSPECTIVE POLITICAL ON VIOLENCE made tomake at best such would the alleged prior commitment. although these problems the universal law formula implic among asks what maxims we can rationally will as universal law. Kant. however generations for a primitive period when will make brief. elimination of the most extreme maxims that regarding political violence one could I argued for above. with no rational constraints on per means-end ends. is that social structures (and time become better. there remains much in what indeterminacy rationally 38 use.] I think here be made behavior that human that the best not improve.

a standard of in principle to all. not with others. or to adopt a child than having a child of one's own. and maxims contingently impossible on in special instances of "freeloading" although ly innocent. in each person. own. JR. perhaps. HILL. social institutions reminder. but only in the agent's view of what sort of behavior on their part he or she could tolerate. humanity standards of (moral) practical but it raises familiar problems of reason. in a sense that abstracts from particular agent-relative In effect. including my would-be victim." Consider the maxim queue. The later formulas of the Categorical this clearer. Each agent. as Kant's argument in the its to the fact that the formula usefully calls attention suggests. consideration against the maxims that there seems needs Finally. same in all (or a construction the from the reasonable reflections essentially of all). is to calling for consultation and then asking whether imagine everyone acting on the relevant maxim he or she can reasonably will this. might The to clarify Kant's I think. I suggest. or using that as supplement. Kant introduces justifiability This does not mean that a judge may not sentence a criminal because he is to someone does not mean showing to go to jail. So in fact. the when I ask whether I can treat another person as a means Groundwork test is not just whether I can will the corresponding maxim rationally by criterion of rational choice. rather or never to buy a house but to admire others'. the spirit of "Don't. by rephrasing "the maxim". Treated as a rather formal constraint. (rational nature) to my ends. . overriding mere inclination. the universal law formula that moral deliberation the impression is a solitary activity. it is wrong for everyone to let others go ahead of one in a pletely general rule. Kant's claim that maxims as universal when they could not be conceived without contradiction laws trouble. are condemned Further. humanity is a shared faculty. strictly speaking. can assent to the action reasonably. some concerns. "if it's inconceivable for you to do it. Others come into account. the faculty of reason which is to govern us. and partly as a result. Imperative make to suppose to Kant's it is tempting Now for that shifting humanity the problems. impossible logically are often intuitive for everyone on. The test is whether any agent-relative one. if everyone can't" seems an apt it is hard to see any basic moral consideration behind the com to do it. it seems. is This fails to reflect the fact that practical reason. One can always avoid counter but my point is that intuitive results. for "justifying" unwilling that the act in question accords with that person's personal preferences. Moreover. may give essentially until the first problem is solved. does help significantly formula. in moral deliberation. suffice to resolve mula.126 THOMAS E. no prima to be overcome facie moral in this way. Very few maxims invites endless (including Kant's examples) to adopt and act for everyone seem.

refuse to take all our perceived options because each would fail to respect the dignity of someone?40 Are there not situations where Kant's absolute insistence on dignity will require us to refuse to take the emergency." Dilemmas. Moral and the possible that Kantian dilemmas. given the complexity for the position 2. not as a case-by-case test but independent moral as a value-guideline to be taken into account. by between the dignity of one person say. equivalent. to critics this feature of Kant's ethics has long appealed on political violence. a state authority might (with violence) respond against are known of the paper." Dignity one might justify trade-offs. without Aban moral 1996). normally wrong justified I have argued elsewhere that the most promising circumstances? way of to apply the idea of human dignity. Dilemmas and Moral Press." above preserves. as I have argued elsewhere.of sense. promotes. of view Now that counts although it raises obvious of consequentialism. in DPR. I discuss these "practical seems to theory H. Indeed. cases of terrorism . point of view practical reason.). Although must have an important place at some level of consequences weighing all principles must ultimately be justified from a point moral deliberation. pp. all price agents.41 Continuing that strategy. Chap. in the next that legislative and comment briefly on how perspective each person as having a worth that cannot be calculated. autonomous have dignity. in the broad moralized Further." "gaps" in a paper in "Moral and Residues. perspective a definitive 39 40 moral would from the Kantian that reasonable deliberation has yet to be worked out. where general rules are decided section that might I sketch for basic public institutions. Kant interprets treating humanity as an end in itself more substantively. 167-198. (Oxford: Oxford Theory University leave. 10. beings as rational. which. Gaps. 41 These objections is on how for purposes are taken up Chap. to try to offer support answer at this stage would be premature. I assume to be immoral. and honors It implies the nature of human as such.E. life in extraordinary but intuitively saving actions. together approach with a speculative will have to serve as my remarks about its application. and ten. "Making Exceptions doning the Principle: Or How a Kantian Might Think about Terrorism.ON POLITICAL VIOLENCE A KANTIAN PERSPECTIVE The relevant 127 to all insofar as they will take up is justifiability perspective . Mason (ed. develops. as requiring a high priority on whatever the moral expresses." My focus there. This sketch help toframe moral discussion to the morality of a new Kantian of political violence. See my DPR. of application. with other aspects along at a higher-order of morality. conclusion. Will there questions us not be cases of practical moral where the theory makes dilemmas. level of reflection. at least these problems is approaching in the first instance. worth. the "greater" dignity of two.39 and incomparable that persons. an "unconditional and "without which is not a quantitative value notion. however. or a hundred persons.

they make sufficient is the starting and fall-back position). no matter what one's ends." Perspective 104 (1993). A Theory of Justice (Cambridge: Harvard University Press. in a few quick Kantian have. A COMBINATION OF KANT'S FORMULAS: THE LEGISLATIVE PERSPECTIVE Kant's explicit idea of a "kingdom of ends" [Reich der Zwecke] is Kant's most use of a political model for deliberation about moral principles. reason slavery has a (more or less ordered) set of private ends to pursue and the knowledge are a good bet to be useful. 1971). 3. Regarding Press." (forthcoming). that certain means from personal differences" need not be taken as implying an "Abstracting as thorough as that imposed by Rawls' "veil of ignorance. [431-440]. the will. Chaps." fails to Except the laws and subject be "bound" by the laws only by the technicality that a holy will follows and so cannot be said without pure rational principles any temptations are rational to be "bound" to them. .43 the general principles Like Rousseau's idea of the in contrast to "private wills. Rawls. 6 (1992). my suggestion University see "A Kantian but different." and index." Ethics pp. 10. "A Kantian Rules. 1. (so equal liberty They each of legislation have "private ends" but for purposes "abstract from they and so work with only the abstract idea that each personal differences" bribes. 22-52." the perspective that one is to "general will. 98-107 the reconstruction of Kant's basic briefly summarizing in several and over a number papers trying to develop DPR. that these issues can be resolved arguments strokes without worrying about empirical realities.. 42 In the next few paragraphs that I have I am been moral framework Perspectives "Reasonable Regarding the "veil of ignorance. but from reason.128 THOMAS E. Particularly relevant on Moral in Philosophical 2. The members and have "autonomy" to themselves. So they are bound only by laws they legislate not merely to their laws as authoritative. all the members of to the laws. on Moral Rules. and 11. etc. Kantian condition. being a "holy will.42 are both authors for the titular head (God). pp. JR. from self they are committed interest or inclination. and index. falsely suggesting. and Kant. Chaps. V. they are free from threats and no laws without to tradition. legislative Perspective 43 are of years. perspective. of the issue and the still incomplete of the Kantian specification legislative as too often It would also be misleading. "Donagan's Social Philosophy and Policy Self-interest. 1993). pp. and Political Liberalism (New York: Columbia for an analogous. Groundwork." some sort of sincere effort to set aside personal tastes and but it implies attachments when these are morally irrelevant to decisions about particular abstraction to be considered." take up is that of a "representative citizen" concerned for the good of each See Kant. pp. HILL. 285-304." see J. 22-28. The Head.

imperfect unenforceable "legislating" principles as perfect juridical duties." be arrived if each member found thatallmaxims that theywould be acting on if they did not accept the principles to conclude could condemned that they would conclude that "Never law procedure." The that would be made such ideal legislators. they are moral lie" and "Help the needy sometimes" laws." presuppose is the kingdom used noting. Kant seems at times to have pictured this process "making universal laws" as what occurs when on particular or her maxims each person. I according think. well It is obvious. their problems. the kingdom's legislators duties as for both areas.. one could will to adopt for everyone and they would and act on. this says. reason from personal if one member to has sufficient differences. sometimes. Finally.e.g. At no time. to think of the "legislation" by along the lines already suggested of autonomous the metaphor of a community persons who together make laws for themselves. and then "pass" those laws reason.9' Kant The members respect. universal laws" by their joint rational willing." person. take into account both dignity and personal for laws.. E. idea of humanity this basic moral procedure: 44 I think. see as that virtue legislating is duly members.A KANTIAN PERSPECTIVE POLITICAL VIOLENCE ON and all. to make and obey "laws" they can justify to each commitment The "laws"made would be intermediate principles like "Never lie" or "Help the needy between at by seeing above were the Categorical what maxims and particular Imperative judgments. Kant suggests. the existence rewarded. we imagine they meet. above all price. for the legislators are stipulated to share the formal idea is expressed in their value. Note that. then so does every other condemn 45 there is some textual ambiguity. how this legislative the perspective incorporates as an end itself. his "universalizes" separately. and self-governance. In that case. at times use suggests ends would become actual only if everyone did his or her duty and ifGod cooperated to it seems the that we are to think of ourselves does now not of as a guideline model legislative of ends in the first sense. "make occasions to the universal law formula. 129 though very much aware that individuals strongly value liberty.45 Since the Categorical is a basic kingdom Imperative as well for personal virtue and interpersonal relations principle must be thought of as matters of law and justice. and presumably they acknowledge the members and constrain their legislation together accordingly.44 But it is better. then they are supposed by the universal not to act as those maxims be wrong direct. are "ends in themselves. with dignity. in any of But case. as if the moral end to be produced. to the universal conform laws that you and others would make sible/ideal moral of ends. Moreover. Again. i. At times Kant that the kingdom of their "abstraction given a maxim. by . confront ends (abstractly considered). were "do whatever you can as a means is rather to conform to the laws the kingdom as an "ideal it is worth imperative command to bring about a kingdom of ends. (and sufficient) the ideas of the Categorical that combines Imperative to always in a pos as candidates review possible "bills" for which there is most A version of the previous is the rational command versions.

there that you can rea their shared perspective).47 To digress from makes FKE essential does not. Moreover. one looks first at one's act (to find the corresponding maxim) way: legislators in conflict under all potentially the principles Kantian is morally relevant is given in the out out. saying "Act only by maxims as the hypothetical leg To be sure. if not. above) without to apply either In any case.46 is a difference sonably law" (FUL) and saying "Act only as permitted that you and all other rational agents would reasonably will by principles as universal laws under the conditions of the kingdom of ends" (FKE). for it needed for well-grounded judgments. But see footnote 23. HILL. 5. JR. in the legislative for adopting principles. for the members incorporated. once they have been worked principles. The complex idea of autonomy is are stipulated to have autonomy of the will. procedure in a special law or principle (2) FUL brings in the idea of a universal in effect. I think. willing given (FUL) needs explicidy of moral to be interpreted in terms of later Kantian ideas that are more out in the latter (FKE). particular The islators universal "make will law formula universal between as universal is mirrored insofar laws" by their rational willing. the fact that FKE can problems persistent be stated to maxims may well be an reference (as initially. tells us that "what relevant I propose to do" must as not act-descriptions what would adopt. or. let us nearly the same. and to abstracting from irrelevant private inclinations and they are committed attachments. review briefly some of the differences between FUL and FKE. . (1) FUL reference If we adhere on which to maxims. can be worked be cleared with and then one tries to think of that act (specified by themaxim) as amodel 46 47 See DPR. for practical purposes the kinds spelled needed to apply each formula turn out. to be deliberation the main track to clarify to the maxim to Kant's this interpretive one will then FKE point. Chap.130 other also (from THOMAS E. above. they are bound by no laws but what they agree upon together." Moreover. laws under the conditions given the of precise maxim-description. that the indefinite idea of reasonable in the former However. since the full deliberations needed advantage. on maxims act whereas acts can be could easily idea that all intentional (practically) by reference interpreted as follows: "Act only be reformulated that you and all other rational agents would of the kingdom of ends. starting deliberation is no short cut that can replace the thorough deliberation (as FUL demands) FKE makes this clear at once. review of an indefinite number of potentially relevant formula require permitted by principles reasonably will as universal with an initial statement of a maxim considerations.

But FKE invites us (asKant did inTheMetaphysics ofMorals) intermediate normative principles or maxim our act-description to see and only or required. in effect. the only law to be considered out a set of for everyone if.A KANTIAN PERSPECTIVE POLITICAL VIOLENCE ON for everyone. one's maxim into a universal itself is transformed until the procedure law or practice. But this seems all to the good. law (in FUL) is just limiting what you "can reasonably will" as universal will" as universal law. in universal given policy form. the addition of "and others" in the reasonably will as universal in the kingdom of ends. for you that universal psychologically possible unreasonable there is anything about choosing policy but rather whether it. the FUL seems dependent or at least the fuller specification FKE of the standards of reasonableness in FKE. logically impossible not follow FUL on as far as I can see. Second. seems all to the good. in universal will" form So here not imply. a shared faculty of reason that takes consulting the crucial factor into account impartially the rational wills of all. "Do act on what you (and others) would law. is repeated. law Other maxims which fail What is not FUL are those for that these (without contradiction). permissive first to work 131 In effect. while group. when one conceives is not whether "Can I reasonably will this?" the relevant consideration it to choose is empirically. referring to other rational legislators or paradigm from yourself as a solitary deliberator to the explicit model an ideal legislative the "expressive" this changes value but.48 that are more explicit 48 Notice that I have limited this last discussion tomaxims laws. the thought processes required for each turn out not once one realizes to be significantly that willing different "reasonably" FKE simply makes it explicit. reference accounts that can be conceived as cannot being be one's conceived we as "cannot universal universal reasonably impossible. as we have seen. But this feature of it is forbidden description. for. again. Adequate application (3) FUL says "Act only on what you can reasonably will as universal law" and FKE says. words. whether any then to check or principle. In other what you and others "would reasonably in FUL means for Kant amaxim as a policy for everyone and wonders. and so FKE for everyone does (on my reading) this." that so willing but that it is seem of reasonableness in FKE irrelevant. is acceptable ("can be willed") may well it is to be into which depend upon the context of other universal principles to take that into account. changes latter. and intuitive appeal. under any FKE. One can reasonably will the universalized maxim only if on it violates none of the universal that the everyone's acting principles on the rational legislators would adopt. that a maxim it is is condemned because simply to adopt and act on it. the problems (mentioned given earlier) about the logical impossibility aspect of the FUL test . FKE does to the standards is "unreasonable. of FUL needs incorporated." First. Thus. And the legislative of FKE is simply a way of framing perspective this question.

That is. in isolation from the merits and demerits of the particular or permit of the general adoption of public policies that would prescribe the kind of particular act in question. about rules. the formula has "gaps".49 Crucially. book. ideally one would first try to find a coherent and consistent set of policies. on the consequences. without (by itself) giving advice as to which course to take. exclusively by focusing case at hand. that invites as having. 1992).132 The Kantian some important legislative THOMAS E. Kantian for example.NY: Cornell University Press. that as legislators we must Rather. rules. as a direct guide to par it pulls us ticular action. demanded and by generated if not ruled out by such constraints. it leaves acts (independently of a system of rules) because. HILL. is not a form of utilitarianism. and. "consequences" (though important) nor does this try to find a common denominator or whatever) fulfillment of rational autonomy. University are not all that matters of value adopts Oxford in his impressive Press. an "incomparable worth" calculated beyond his or her rather than a quantitative value ("price") trade-offs. the maximization (or other additive function) of which settles all moral questions. they are regarded as permitted The Kantian perspective. perspective. by taking up the higher-order legislative perspective the humanity formula as specifying the attitude that they should 49 new It is distinct. it is not a form of con though as this is usually understood. Cummiskey and Oxford: (New York 1996). satisfaction. . As with rule-utilitarianism. "Making Exceptions without Abandoning the Principle: Or How a Kantian Might Think about Terrorism. case by case. Particular obligatory the set of constraints from that perspective. when reviewing and rules from the Kantian perspective. us with too many unresolved conflicts. from Consequentialism the position D. respects. or other specific features." reprinted inmy Dignity and Practical Reason inKanfs Moral Theory (Ithaca. cannot be an all-inclusive direct guide for particular human worth a basic the humanity formula on that level. it must take into account consequences. Although it is a crucial part of the FKE. action-guide it is a basic value. is like that of rule utilitarianism in perspective can be made It rejects the idea that moral decisions that one can justify from a moral perspective and principles appropriate actions then are regarded as morally if for the task. to be "applied" directly to one's proposed acts. Most my Kantian preference importantly. from (pleasure. in dilemma-like cases. however.or humanity as a simple. the "legislators" possible policies as an end must constantly honor the value of human dignity . very strongly towards opposite courses of action. It commits us to try to find rules for adopt when deliberating a human community to regard each in which it is possible for everyone person utility. Some differences are noted inmy paper. JR. The humanity formula here is not regarded sequentialism. or orienting attitude. The hope is that many such conflicts can be resolved treating of FKE. decisive in itself. unconditionally.

property by fraud. rights inclined to add here concern "backward facie "not can I am that virtually any concern. Chap. along with other the Categorical Imperative. ical capacities. accept. by showing set of rules. the perspective reducible be from which we should decide what justified and the humanity formula has the primary role of determining. where goodness ismeasured by some prior standard. the issue with a certain ideal moral attitude.D. which consists of a complex to a desire to produce of concerns not all reducible future goods.g. here proceeds that a not. For example. there are and are not.. as a mere means application." Some Kantians may regard these values as absolute. but in may develop. forms human 51 be of sexual a false promise.. his or her moral and phys and opportunity and social conditions that enable and encourage rational that human dignity is "priceless" and "without living. autonomous each person's life as a rational autonomous agent. the to live as such. 1930). rape. they also call for appropriate responses now. Ross. Ross's "Prima formulated in any very meaningful to look in a way does sense" like because itmay a future-oriented might as one be expressed.. The Right and theGood (Oxford: Oxford University Press. would result in the best adopted state of the universe. if generally and taught. E. treat a person them as ends in in themselves. 2]. are willing or would accept. as legislators to everyone else insofar as they. as with rule-utilitarianism.51 These concerns include liberty. to the rules we conscientiously The justi moral perspective. Given these values trump various special interests that individuals equivalent."50 sort of constraints are implicit in What we are aiming to work out rules justifiable to confine themselves like us. to argue that one should not not treating them as a means. means. making gaining can be understood as rights so as treating someone violations. etc. often make implicit appeals torights. independently entious work for a future with greater mutual also respect respect. one must now by constraining the means one is others as rational autonomous agents 50 It should way a particular of that attempts perhaps be noted that is merely because using formula. The Kantian generate future goals to be worked for. one must not only of what may happen later. .A KANTIAN PERSPECTIVE POLITICAL VIOLENCE ON and that try to maintain when legislating real world. for practical but we need to remember that rights claims need to be purposes. as if they existed prior to and independent the humanity molestation. the real world occasions arise in which not all of even these most stringent to the extent a consci values can be simultaneously honored in practice values do not merely person would wish. from the Kantian fication certain they should try to foster 133 "in the this attitude? First. to justify is to show acceptability to review to anyone prepared Rather. of fidelity looking" principle act at each time so that the future (or promise-keeping) not include you who has broken his promise at this time" [See W. E. as opposed as human to their rightful claims That is not a bad beings.g.

as an "end in himself. hates. That is. by morality as a person. and no doubt always controversial. working for our world.134 THOMAS E. 201-211. the prin though we may continue Clearly. legislators must not only decide rules guided by their over-riding to the basic values described commitment above (life. best respects the basic ideal of human that. they or egoistic. loves. and etc. a "metaphysics intermediate of morals. we must acknowledge to these complexities. in each person is priceless that "humanity" and without ciple equivalent. our conception etc. This is fairly protect 52 I try to explain and illustrate this point more fully in "The Message of Affirmative Action" inmy collection of essays. of value in terms of which all such decisions denominator This means out the that. respect. liberty. is the life we would choose if relying solely on our desires as a particular individual. in addition are not all that must be considered. in abstract form. all things considered. less-than-ideal tempo compromises. others. is not necessarily which hedonistic it but. many sided. the basics." will be principles no easy task. policies to a common Unlike Kantians have no pretense rule-utilitarians. influenced with others as their object. contrary to what Kant himself thought. There will different policies out adjustments. by but based on experience. rary policies. in our efforts to find the package of principles. the more specific values implicit in this (somewhat vague) general idea are ones that draw us towards to work be a need in actual situations. the set we settle on will be complex. ideally upon and morally rationally optional. Together of our "happiness. at least so far as permitted and reason. full that contain qualifications in need of principles and exceptions. personal is not given in advance of moral deliberation from the out. can be made. JR.. beyond and aid each person's pursuit of personal happiness. etc. capable of morality each person but also in one's ends. reflection. I have just mentioned basic values ends that are Each person." has a set of personal are the ends we adopt. Chap. Rather. that they must work out principles. hopes.) but. their ground Many and have of these values will cooperative is that they are what activities be shared by others. rules. for all one's efforts towards this must maximize respect each individual's right to liberty now. dignity. Now part of valuing one who What (freely) own deliberation is permissible the particular agent wants and chooses. to use to bring a better future. roughly speaking.52 And it is not an unqualified willing goal to human liberty over time. 1991). 13. constantly of revision. to affirm. HILL." constitute fears. Autonomy and Self Respect (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. They in the light of our particular preferences. esp. but is one more thing that needs to be worked legislative perspective. is to give some weight adopts personal to the permissible and conduct ends of others. pp. . that assured. that the But.

For Rawls. The more subtly the perspective are taken into account. Both begin with "ideal theory. and Kant at times more Rawls under those ideal conditions.") the idea of a "pure rational of moral principles development and systematic will.g. VI. Besides.. not of any particular theories. where by applying convention to see Kant's about actual conditions." a legislative stage. what is right. the "original the theory in "stages. of (supposed) facts (some of which he acknowledges. will do.A KANTIAN PERSPECTIVE POLITICAL VIOLENCE ON not simply constraints a matter 135 total or average happiness after basic of maximizing are settled. for Kantian moral principles." stage./e>r dimly realized. must express respect for the equality and liberty of each more directly and constantly than policies based on utilitarian of preferences impartial agglomeration on the Kantian picture. in light of our considered judgments Kant starts equilibrium. These imperfections must be taken into account. thought. as at least its tasks into stages. like Rawls' theory of justice. The perspective controversial particular conclusions helps a way of thinking that might be shared and enable those who to frame to reason together towards resolutions. despite what Kant who takes up his legislative will reach the same perspective is defined the more everyone conclusions about moral issues. each stage introduces he handles the problem (Partly. it is far from clear that obviously. This may be seen as a problem of life. that the principles more ideal world (e. with strict compliance to its rules) were not guaran teed to be appropriate for our very imperfect world. Some . Here I will only "kingdom two necessary adjustments. and a judicial more information this is partly done a constitutional position. Clearly any empirical the style ethics must face and adjust to the gaps between plausible Kantian idealized mention Most of ends" and real world conditions. there is no measure of happiness across persons. SPECULATIVE APPLICATIONS: WHERE THE FRAMEWORK MIGHT LEAD ethics." but in his examples in The Metaphysics he actually draws upon many Morals. others not). just as there will be for consequentialists. But resolution is never disagree In hard cases there will always be some uncertainty about guaranteed." implicitly dividing a world more abstract and perfect than the actual asking us to conceive world and then showing us what principles would be adopted as reasonable saw clearly. all principles revisable by making about its conclusions when we seek "reflective with an even more idealized idea than Rawls. It is helpful a derived from such ideal conditions. I assume. theory. stage. and the more real relevant conditions are likely to be.

weakness of will. namely. Practically. There are so many factors to consider on which reasonable people may well include not only the empirical disagree. or ideal. yield bizarre conclusions e. props. would legislators ideal than our congressmen is a good moral heuristic. as to what conclusions we might expect. we have to modify these in the light of the fact thatwe that not need for psychological selfishness. of being absolutely right or wrong would be a regulative what at best reasonable legislators. agree upon. might disagree: admitting in any area Firth's view. in earnest dialogue with this means maintain to act only by principles that in good faith as what would all persons taking the legislative perspective will always be imperfect. does not depend upon universal agreement.136 however. Here is for a moment more definite some quite general guiding considerations. addictions. not to resolve it. are not features liability to chemical in Kant's kingdom of ends or even his idealized "idea of a social pictured but they are factors in light of which principles for a more perfect contract. in conclusion. vulnerability shortsightedness. is that. ingly." Philosophy and Phenomenon logical Research 12 (1952). The idea of something obligation idea. there is need for ongoing and moral humility on this issue. reflecting well (by theKantian perspective) in the light of their conditions. since the issue is vitally important. Reasonable A be useful know further followed them. Real world ignorance. to social pressures. but to stick at all costs madness. beyond controver will not be easy to determine and are understandably principles sial. These background but many moral factors to take into account. Firth. to the principles they would adopter their perfect world would be My thinking aim here has been about speculate what I conjecture. one judges others.. HELL. certain on that ideal deliberators for example. can avoid this disagree. "Ethical Absolutism and the Ideal Observer. THOMAS E. of reflective moral opinion to converge on certain standards when tendency then. the however.JR. . etc. predicted outcomes..g. 53 facts and Accord dialogue R. ideal observer theories. But. First. pp. Each person's act by such conscientious is to judgment. as I see it." To ask what think if more world need to be modified. to describe a reasonable Kantian perspective for we might the problem. they should all adopt when deliberating morally. though it might point that must be acknowledged to imagine what principles would be reasonable if everyone everyone will. 317-345. application. Our evidence. itwould follow that anything is permitted ideal observers where theory.53 Kantian as primary the individual's conscientious judgment as to problem by taking as a "bill" to the hypothetical recommend what she could sincerely group by even Roderick of Kantian one can.

like any common criminal. This is at least in the spirit of Kant's basic principle to hindrances to of right/justice. "mere means. Kantian perspective. They of conflict exist to make and through procedures possible good lives that tend to mutual for human beings. deeply destructive. To say "Political unless we forcibly curtail the contemptuous violence priorities it serves a good end" would be to ignore the is justified whenever on "trade-offs" to the Kantian of value and constraints essential than our Kantian perspective. to revolutionary peaceful appeals for some forfeiting provision take away others'. vain. in our world. then it of arbitrary wielders power rather than innocent citizens or rulers who are merely inept. other things being equal. Destroying unamenable implicit presumption against the grossly unjust to reason. if killing is warranted up property . were initially to a right to life and liberty equal to anyone else's under Kantian and so they cannot complain treat them as that those principles principles. positions To say "Political vio reflection and dialogue from our Kantian position. (B) Another specifically lence. of thinking less sensitive lence is always wrong" would reflect a mode to the importance of securing the conditions perspective and it would for liberty. advan which is the higher priority. ventable by other means. totally is surely better than targeting the goods of innocent at random. Property conventions in which from their role in securing conditions individuals tion ultimately in a fair orderly way with and groups can pursue their permissible projects a minimum tage. other things being equal. there are at least strong prima facie presumptions implicit in the For example. Tyrants. to force specific reforms from a government that resists all selectively is preferable. violent oppressors. Third." The only systems that can fully respect the humanity of all entitled will have to make deliberately that political violence directed too. and unpopular. Kant's own rigoristic (A) posi despite human beings tion about property. that authorizes the forceful hindrance and unpre freedom. And. we cannot affirm full respect for all ignore acts of some. there is a presumption (C) Perhaps. than damaging property.A KANTIAN PERSPECTIVE POLITICAL VIOLENCE ON 137 are unlikely to survive careful the most extreme Second. and the legitimate pursuit of happiness. their freedoms when they people or blowing (as Kant thought in just war and state punishment are themselves murderous is better if the victims the possessions of flagrant. the fact that. And doing than damaging is worse irreparable damage to vital resources replaceable get their justifica property inessential to basic needs. is better violence is that political targeted than random political vio for murder). justice. especially when willful. flagrant. it seems clear that killing and maiming is worse.

corruption at the core that robs the whole ernments rather than rottenness system of like boils to be lanced with That is." the extraordinary of tive. more relevant for Kantians than utilitarians. Like thinkers as is one's motive diverse as Gilbert Ryle and Sigmund Freud. and can be "brought down" only of the rightful functions to the interests and contrary to the strong presumptive by acts damaging innocent people. Kant perhaps resort" to be employed deemed whenever likely to calm. we must presume present (and up for nonviolent moral reform. of government. by rational dialogue. consideration. of many rights violence used (D) Again. they are often more any legitimacy. with pockets of corruption nature. political from a Kantian perspective preferable as a "last to violence is presumably as a general strategy to be effective. means." It is partly that lawful governments serve many often still retain some of their initial claim on our allegiance. JR.138 violence often THOMAS E. day treat with respect) a human to a point. has infallible And yet why one is introspective is a morally It is of what one is doing. most are ugly aspects of lawful gov and oppression it seems. for example. this could con act-utilitarianism Placing not mean an incomparable value on "rational nature" in each person the chances that some lead one to accept murderous violence ceivably against a few for the sake in a procedure of "trade-offs" of the greater good of the many. that aims to bring down the whole governing structure. for. doing something important part difficult to us. moral persuasion. and not every to be sure why joining a revolution appeals unselfish motive is acceptable from the Kantian perspec "high minded. that there is still an important place in thinking I must emphasize (F) as I see it. (E) Another to join in political in wanting violence. criticism from philosophers but his reasonable I think. surgery rather than rabid beasts precise is not just the persistent The problem fear. common among conservative reverts us to an awful "state of that revolution inevitably philosophers. . HILL. Kant doubted that each person access to one's motives. does that will maximize doing anything more people will live rationally. and other peaceful when possible. theory. to be put down by any means. At least part of the message is that. for taking into account the numbers from the Kantian perspective. If one adopted self-diminishing "impartiality" as one's dominant motive. rightly holds as ideal the effort to settle our differences. which is a complex decision not turning entirely on future consequences. calculated toKantian modes of thinking. the prospects of reform from "top down" in response exaggerated and other intellectuals. even in those who so far often act potential as if deaf to reason. One needs that would be stringently opposed to determine first that one has a right to be violent.

then. the odds of and the is (empirically) necessary. as "Never lie" and "Never actively as absolutes. could see as justified from the respect and value Kantian perspective. and we must blindly adhere to the rules for a more is in fact quite imperfect. to captures insights. great caution advocating in order to promote peace in "Making Exceptions without Abandoning the . and prevented. 215.. one must refrain from doing something and he insisted that sometimes in ethics that doing it would promote more happiness. than many are prepared the fundamental not consequentialist.A KANTIAN PERSPECTIVE POLITICAL ON VIOLENCE or injured. To think that these or else once said.g. to suppose my modified Kantian perspective is a serious mistake. the only way to honor the basic preserve that fairly determine whom idea of equal dignity is to abide by principles to rescue and whom one must let go. Drawing straws even for the last places on the life boat may be more mutually than respectful all drowning together. that "ten are worth No one. we choice principles." the empirical probabilities success are irrelevant. to abandon peaceful means before undertaking 54 DPR. Chap. 55 This theme is developed more Principle" inDPR. and "the odds" at some level of moral take into account "the numbers" that can be justified to all who fully reflection. More needs to be said about this crucial point. is treated as a mere means. The basic test is to follow whatever to our best judgment in full consultation with others. though one estimates the Kantian I have described. It is true. is moral principle Kant's procedure for identifying the "supreme moral principle" and justifying is. the likelihood of harm 139 that violence and misery caused degrees are irrelevant is either madness (as I to be in the grip of a philosophical these matters in some other way there Probably takes care of progress of history). perspective arguably Kant's deepest moral allows us. that Kant himself held certain principles. in a sense. is not significantly different from consequentialism.55 is that the result of serious informed (G) Finally. in an after-life or the universal of Kantian is no barrier to the acceptance ethics greater than the opinion of that for Kantians "the numbers don't count. and when it is empirically impossible the lives and liberties of everyone. which Nonetheless. no thought ten times as much as one" is invoked. take part in revolution. think each person. ungenerously)54 to be killed theory that one assumes success." It have a more limited role is also true that Kant insisted that consequences to admit. victim and survivor alike. We are looking for principles to each person. (e. indeed requires us. 10. of course. nonempirical. my personal conjecture debates among conscientious persons taking the Kantian perspective would be quite conservative about political violence. even perfect world even though our own world such corrupt. p. but it I think. For example.

against political well-motivated of the (if not well argued) because of his deep awareness too much moral and human costs of unnecessary violence. and oppression. because of human fallibility. celebrate wars with more focus on heroism the relevant policies we must earlier. as a public policy for fallible and self-deceiving people The risks would be are. Kant himself went too far in his absolutist exceptions but I can imagine that his stance was at least violence. act on such matters and one cannot conscientiously in ways enormous. war. with expects. JR. successful fill and just results." To approve of the injustice. would not be easy from the Kantian perspective. We tend to celebrate revolutions without on the death and misery to individuals caused. With violence will lessen faith in inevitable progress and too little tolerance for optimistic stance in principles. that one knows one could not justify as a public policy for others. and oppression by political violence" as noted some degree of and hopes.140 THOMAS E. as a means that one Department University of North of Philosophy Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill NC 27599-3125 USA . our basic moral standards can never be simply "To end injustice. check by but rather "To resort to political war. probability such as we latter. HILL. just as we dwelling they than human tragedy. Moreover.

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