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Kant against Hobbes in Theory and Practice

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In the middle section of Theory and Practice, Kant speaks briefly `against Hobbes'; but for a fuller version of Kant's anti-Hobbesianism one must turn to the three Critiques, the Groundwork, and Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone. It is in those works that one learns that, for Kant, Hobbes's notion of `will' as fully determined `last appetite' destroys the freedom needed to take `ought' or moral necessity as the motives for self-determined action; that Hobbes' s version of the social contract is thus incoherent; that Hobbes is not even able to show how moral ideas (i.e. `ought') are conceivable through the `pressure' of `outward objects'. For Kant, in short, Hobbes has no adequate notions of will, freedom, moral necessity, ideation, or even obligatory contract, and therefore fails in his own stated aims.

Affiliations: 1: c/o Department of Government Harvard University Cambridge, MA, USA, Email: leibnutz@aol.com

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