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Force and Freedom

Force and Freedom

Kant’s Legal and Political Philosophy

Arthur Ripstein

ISBN 9780674035065

Publication date: 10/15/2009

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In this masterful work, both an illumination of Kant’s thought and an important contribution to contemporary legal and political theory, Arthur Ripstein gives a comprehensive yet accessible account of Kant’s political philosophy. Ripstein shows that Kant’s thought is organized around two central claims: first, that legal institutions are not simply responses to human limitations or circumstances; indeed the requirements of justice can be articulated without recourse to views about human inclinations and vulnerabilities. Second, Kant argues for a distinctive moral principle, which restricts the legitimate use of force to the creation of a system of equal freedom. Ripstein’s description of the unity and philosophical plausibility of this dimension of Kant’s thought will be a revelation to political and legal scholars.

In addition to providing a clear and coherent statement of the most misunderstood of Kant’s ideas, Ripstein also shows that Kant’s views remain conceptually powerful and morally appealing today. Ripstein defends the idea of equal freedom by examining several substantive areas of law—private rights, constitutional law, police powers, and punishment—and by demonstrating the compelling advantages of the Kantian framework over competing approaches.

Praise

  • One sunny spring day nearly forty years ago, I was sitting in an open air café in Ithaca, New York, having coffee with Hans-Georg Gadamer… Gadamer said that the biggest single lacuna in Kant studies was the absence of a really good book on Kant’s Rechtslehre. It ought to be a book, he declared, that did not start out from Kantian ethics, but instead expounded Kant’s theory of human rights, law and politics authentically, solely on the ground of Kant’s concept of Recht: external freedom according to universal law… Until now, however, I have never found the book Gadamer thought so badly needed to be written. But this book finally appears to be it.

    —Allen Wood, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

Awards

  • 2011, Joint winner of the Canadian Philosophical Association Book Prize

Author

  • Arthur Ripstein is University Professor of Law and Philosophy at the University of Toronto.

Book Details

  • 416 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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