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The Constitution of AgencyEssays on Practical Reason and Moral Psychology$
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Christine M. Korsgaard

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199552733

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199552733.001.0001

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Taking the Law into Our Own Hands: Kant on the Right to Revolution

Taking the Law into Our Own Hands: Kant on the Right to Revolution

Chapter:
(p.233) 8 Taking the Law into Our Own Hands: Kant on the Right to Revolution
Source:
The Constitution of Agency
Author(s):

Christine M. Korsgaard (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199552733.003.0009

Kant condemned revolution as a violation of a duty of justice, yet was a supporter of the French Revolution. This chapter defends Kant's view that revolution is a violation of a duty of justice by appeal to the fact that in order to be just, revolution would have to accord with the general will, and the government speaks for the general will. The chapter then explains Kant's paradoxical attitude by appeal to the distinction between duties of justice and duties of virtue. The duties of justice require us to obey the powers that be, because only in the political state can human rights and freedom be realized. But the virtue of justice requires us to make human rights our end. When a political society itself violates human rights, the virtue of justice is turned against itself, and the person who makes human rights his end may be driven to take the law into his own hands.

Keywords:   duty, freedom, general will, government, justice, Kant, political, revolution, rights, virtue

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