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Über die Rolle des ursprünglichen Vertrages in "Über den Gemeinspruch: Das mag in der Theorie richtig sein, taugt aber nicht für die Praxis"

Jens Kulenkampff
Jahrbuch für Recht und Ethik / Annual Review of Law and Ethics
Vol. 16, Themenschwerpunkt: Kants Metaphysik der Sitten im Kontext der Naturrechtslehre des 18. Jahrhunderts / Kant's Doctrine of Right in the Context of Eighteenth Century Natural Law (2008), pp. 165-181
Published by: Duncker & Humblot GmbH
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/43579355
Page Count: 17
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Über die Rolle des ursprünglichen Vertrages in "Über den Gemeinspruch: Das mag in der Theorie richtig sein, taugt aber nicht für die Praxis"
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Abstract

In the second part of On the Common Saying: This May be True in Theory, but it does not Apply in Practice Kant sketches a theory of the state, which is interesting in more than one respect. First, although Kant adheres to the concept of the original contract, it is not the original contract that justifies the citizens' obligation of civil obedience. Instead, Kant argues that from the presupposition of everyone's freedom (not of a natural right to freedom!) alone follows everyone's absolute and primary duty to become a member of a civil state. Second, because of everyone's absolute and primary duty to become a member of a civil state, the civil state as such may be considered as if it were the result of an original contract. Thus, the original contract is nothing but an idea of reason. Yet it follows from this idea of reason that only an essentially republican state is a truly legitimate civil state. In the light of this republican principle, the idea of an original contract contains the (negative) criterion of just laws: Whatever a people cannot impose upon itself cannot be imposed upon it by the legislator either. Third, Kant further argues that the people may not appeal to an original contract to justify their civil disobedience, even when state authorities are obviously violating the criterion of just law. Yet, in this third argument, Kant was surely wrong. Though there cannot be a constitutional right to revolution (i.e. a constitutional right to violate the constitution), from the republican principle and / or the idea of an original contract as the criterion of just law, it follows that the people have a right to resist unjust laws.

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