Bakhtawar Bilal Soofi, ‘Property Rights In Kant’s Political Philosophy’

This essay attempts to unravel some of the tensions inherent in Kant’s treatment of property rights when viewed in conjunction with the broader themes central to his political philosophy. This essay proceeds as follows.

In Part II, I will explore why property rights are essential to Kant’s political philosophy and what role they play, if any, in helping human beings set ends for themselves. I will then attempt to show how the introduction of the idea of provisional property rights serves to mediate the tension between Kant’s conception of a property right as an exclusionary right and the Universal Principle of Right.

In Part III, I will critically evaluate the nature of the transition from the state of nature to the civil condition to see if it merely rubber-stamps the pre-existing distribution of private property or if it also envisages some form of redistribution. I will engage with some of the seemingly contradictory and conflicting interpretations of Kant on this point. In doing so, I will argue that those who claim that the civil condition is only a rubber-stamp misread the passages on which they rely and ignore the larger theme of his moral and political philosophy. I will argue that the duty of rightful honor provides the conceptual groundwork for why re-distribution of property – through taxation or otherwise – is essential for reaching the civil condition.

Soofi, Bakhtawar Bilal, Property Rights In Kant’s Political Philosophy (January 4, 2017).

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