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Kant against Hobbes: Reasoning and Rhetoric

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image of Journal of Moral Philosophy

This paper aims to offer an analysis of `Against Hobbes', the title of the second section of Kant's essay On the Common Saying: That May be Correct in Theory but is of no Use in Practice. The paper suggests that we should take the title `Against Hobbes' seriously and that Kant meant to target Hobbes as the standard-bearer of the old regime and in particular Hobbes's claim that the Head of state cannot act unjustly against his citizens. It is argued that Kant's interpretation of Hobbes conforms to what can be regarded as the majority view in Hobbesian scholarship and that Kant poses a serious challenge to Hobbes, in so far as he removes the very foundations from Hobbes's argument on justice, namely, a specific notion of natural law. Finally the paper highlights Kant's lack of interest in engaging with possible Hobbesian counter-arguments.

Affiliations: 1: School of International Relations University of St. Andrews Scotland, UK, Email:


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