Patriotism, Poverty, and Global Justice—A Kantian Engagement with Pauline Kleingeld’s Kant and Cosmopolitanism

In this paper I critically engage some of the philosophical ideas Kleingeld presents in Kant and Cosmopolitanism, namely patriotism, poverty, and global justice. Against Kleingeld, I propose, first, that perhaps democracy is less important and

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Transcript Downloaded: 31 May 2014IP address: Kantian Review ,  19 , 2, 251–266 r Kantian Review,  2014 doi: 10.1017/S1369415414000041 Patriotism, Poverty, and Global Justice:A Kantian Engagement with PaulineKleingeld’s  Kant and Cosmopolitanism helga varden University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignEmail: Abstract In this article I critically engage some of the philosophical ideas Klein-geld presents in  Kant and Cosmopolitanism , namely patriotism, povertyand global justice. Against Kleingeld, I propose, first, that perhapsdemocracy is less important and affectionate love more so to both Kanthimself as well as to an account that can successfully refute a BernardWilliams style ‘one-thought-too-many’ objection to Kantian patriotism;second, that guaranteeing unconditional poverty relief for all its citizensis constitutive of the minimally just state for Kant; and, third, that thereseem to be more disanalogies between the domestic and the global publicauthorities in Kant’s account of right than Kleingeld’s interpretationallows for. Keywords:  Pauline Kleingeld, Kant’s Doctrine of Right,cosmopolitanism, poverty, global justice, patriotismIt is always a treat to read Pauline Kleingeld’s work, and  Kant and Cosmopolitanism  is no exception. 1 Kleingeld’s vast knowledge of Kant’s writings, her way of presenting Kant’s argument and herengagement with other historical figures in order to elicit aspects of Kant’s thought, all make for a deeply interesting, engaging and funmonograph. Furthermore,  Kant and Cosmopolitanism  covers animpressive number of philosophical topics in relation to Kant’s philosophyof right, and even includes a separate chapter that contrasts Kant’sphilosophy with those of Rawls and Habermas. Both Kleingeld and Ibelong to the republican interpretative tradition of Kant’s legal-politicalphilosophy, so there is much in the book we agree on. As is customary, VOLUME 19 – 2  KANTIAN REVIEW |  251 Downloaded: 31 May 2014IP address: however, I will focus my comments on points of disagreement:Kleingeld’s discussions of patriotism, poverty and global justice.Patriotism is the main topic of the first chapter of   Kant and Cosmo- politanism . Kleingeld quickly clarifies her focus by explaining thatKant is criticized y for defending a form of cosmopolitanismthat makes it impossible to defend any form of   special   allegiancetoward one’s own  particular  country. This type of criticism hasbeen made famous by Bernard Williams’ ‘one thought too many’argument in relation to personal attachments  y  I discuss arelated criticism that concerns the allegiance to one’s own state, asformulated by John Simmons. ( 20 , cf.  26 – 7 )At stake, then, is explaining how Kant makes room for patriotism under-stood as citizens’ special allegiance to their own particular state. In theremainder of the chapter, Kleingeld defends the claim that according toKant proper patriotism is ‘essentially connected to a  just political system ,not to a cultural or ethnic community in the nationalist sense’ ( 20 ). Morespecifically, according to Kleingeld, the just political system to which onecan legitimately have special allegiance is the ‘constitutional democracy’, asit involves ‘collective self-legislation’ ( 27 ). Because we participate in thedemocratic  self  -legislation of our own country only, she argues, we havespecial allegiances or duties towards it that we do not have in regard toother countries. Kleingeld clarifies that this account of patriotism entails a‘negative (perfect) duty not to pay no special attention to the civic affairs inone’s own state as a matter of principle, and it supports an equivalentpositive (imperfect) duty to adopt the maxim to have some special concernfor the state in which one is a citizen’ ( 31 ). Citizens have, for example,positive imperfect duties towards preserving their own state, to help itflourish sufficiently to secure justice for all, and to help improve its insti-tutions, such as political and educational ones ( 31 ). Kleingeld alsoemphasizes that the special, perfect duty of citizens ‘not [to]  renounce  [theirown political institutions] y as a matter of principle’ is not an ‘srcinal’duty ‘to support one’s compatriots’. Rather, it is a duty to promote ‘theinstitutionalization of justice’, and ‘the [imperfect] duty of civic patriotismdoes not prohibit one from trying to promote just states elsewhere’ ( 32 ).Discerning which obligations take precedence at any particular time in aperson’scircumstancesisseenasrequiringtheindividual’smoraljudgement.Starting on the assumption that Kleingeld’s interpretation of Kant iscorrect, I first worry that the account she provides of special duties in helga varden 252 |    KANTIAN REVIEW  VOLUME 19 – 2 Downloaded: 31 May 2014IP address: terms of perfect and imperfect duties does not explain how this dis-tinction corresponds to the difference between enforceable duties of right and non-enforceable duties of virtue. Kleingeld seems to implythat the perfect duties are enforceable and the imperfect are not. Butthis position is controversial: for example, it seems that for Kant theduty not to lie is a perfect duty, and yet he holds that lying should not beillegal as such. Nor can her position, in its current form, solve otherrelevant philosophical puzzles, such as why treason is characteristicallydeemed a public crime. Moreover, if, on Kleingeld’s account, our dutyto improve our legal-political institutions (including educational ones)is an imperfect duty, and imperfect duties are not enforceable, then itwould seem that states could not tax their citizens in order to developthese institutions, which appears a philosophical cost of following thisinterpretation of Kant. Finally, it remains unclear to me exactly whatKleingeld means by saying that citizens have a perfect duty ‘not to payno special attention to the civic affairs in one’s own state’.The above questions presuppose the correctness of Kleingeld’s inter-pretation of Kant on the issue of patriotism, and I would now like toquestion this assumption. To start, I am worried about Kleingeld’sportrayal of Kant’s account of patriotism as one in which good patri-otism only tracks states characterized by  democratic  self-legislation.Presumably, this entails attributing to Kant the view that good patri-otism is not possible until a liberal, representative democracy is inplace, because, I think, Kleingeld reads Kant as arguing that politicalobligations and legitimacy arise only within the context of such a state.But why link good patriotism (and political obligations and legitimacy)to a particular form of government (i.e. democracy)? For one thing, it isnot clear to me that Kant links political obligations and legitimacy toa particular form of government in the way this interpretation pre-supposes. Alternative interpretative positions are defended by Kantianslike Katrin Flikschuh, Arthur Ripstein and myself. Like Kleingeld’s,these interpretative positions belong to the republican tradition, butthey are included in the main competing non-democratic interpretativestrand of thought within that tradition. These positions do argue thatpolitical obligations and legitimacy presuppose representative institu-tions of the liberal kind, but not necessarily representative  democracies (even though, on these positions also, the ideal is to transform theseinstitutions into democratic ones). These alternative non-democraticrepublican interpretations maintain that the minimally just state (thelegal-political institutional structure that is politically legitimate andcan issue political obligations) must be liberal and representative, which patriotism, poverty, and global justice VOLUME 19 – 2  KANTIAN REVIEW |  253 Downloaded: 31 May 2014IP address: requires that it be a tripartite  public  authority and secure certain basicprivate and public rights for all its citizens. But the minimally juststate need not be a democracy. It could also be, for example, a liberalaristocracy or a liberal monarchy. Flikschuh, Ripstein and I arguethat political obligations arise, to borrow Flikschuh’s phrase, once‘self-governance’ (a set of liberal representative, or public institutions)is in place (Flikschuh  2009 :  424 ). In contrast, on Kleingeld’s position,political obligations presumably do not arise until ‘self-legislation’(a constitutional democracy) exists. Of course, Kleingeld may be rightthat Kant views democracy as constitutive of the minimally just state.But I do not see her refutation of the competing liberal republicaninterpretations, and Kant’s own texts seem to yield serious resistance toher democratic interpretation. He seems to resist this interpretation inthe Doctrine of Right, and also seems to reject it explicitly in the Anthropology  where, for example, he says: ‘One sees that only y [therepublic: force with freedom and law] deserves to be called a true civilconstitution; by which, however, one does not have in view one of thethree forms of state (democracy), but understands by republic only astate as such’ (Kant  2011 ;  7 :  331 ). 2 Let me now return to the issues raised by applying Williams’s famous‘one-thought-too-many’ objection to the issue of patriotism, which willlead to the more general issue of the extent to which it is best to view, asKleingeld does, Kant’s conception of good patriotism as identical withpractical or moral patriotism. As we will see, I do not think thatKleingeld’s interpretation of Kant on patriotism can answer Williams’sinfamous love objection to universalist theories (when made relevant tothe issue of patriotism), or fully captures Kant’s own view. Starting withthe former problem, I will first show that Kleingeld’s interpretation of Kant seems to saddle him with ‘one thought too many’.The point of Williams’s ‘one thought too many’ objection to uni-versalist theories, I take it, is that although these theories can explainwhy the potential lifesaver must save his wife, they can  only  explain thisthrough an argument that involves making an exception to the generalrule. Universalists such as utilitarians and Kantians, the objection goes,will have to argue that, although each of the drowning persons has aclaim on the lifesaver to be rescued, the lifesaver should make an exceptionin this case because the drowning person is his wife. Universalists mustappeal to the special obligations or values involved in relations betweenwives and husbands – and those special obligations or values are why thelifesavercanandshouldrescuehiswife.Theuniversalistreasoning involves helga varden 254 |    KANTIAN REVIEW  VOLUME 19 – 2 Downloaded: 31 May 2014IP address: ‘one thought too many’, however, because the lifesaver should haveonly one thought in his mind, namely, to save his wife because ‘it is  she ’,because he loves her. In such a situation, having first the thought (# 1 )‘I should save all the drowning persons’, and then the thought (# 2 ) ‘butI should make an exception for my wife’, is to have one thought toomany. Correspondingly, in the patriotism case, if we follow Kleingeld’sinterpretation of Kant, then it seems Kant reasons as follows: I have anobligation to support all just institutions (thought # 1 ), but I shouldmake an exception for my own state because of my special obligationsto it (thought # 2 ). But if this is Kant’s view, then it seems that hisaccount also here involves one thought too many.In addition to the problem of there still being one thought too many, thehighly moralized nature of Kleingeld’s account of patriotism worriesme, both as a matter of Kant interpretation and as concerns theresulting philosophical position. In fact, I believe this is also part of Williams’s worry about universalist theories: their inability to recognizethe normative importance of our affective, social relations. In an effortto show quickly why I believe Kant himself may have a better responseavailable, let me draw attention to a germane passage from  TheMetaphysics of Morals . Kant says:moral anthropology y deal[s] only withthe subjective conditionsin human nature that hinder people or help them in  fulfilling   thelaws of a metaphysics of morals y . It cannot be dispensed with,but it must not precede a metaphysics of morals or be mixedwith it; for one would then run the risk of bringing forth false orat least indulgent moral laws. (Kant  1999 ;  6 :  217 )Here, Kant makes two points of particular relevance for an account of patriotism. First, we must not let moral anthropology set the para-meters for a metaphysics of morals (an account of freedom), since itmust always be the other way around. Second, we cannot do withoutmoral anthropology, which means that we cannot, without it, give a fullaccount of how embodied, social beings of our kind realize freedom.Moral anthropology identifies the subjective conditions in human nat-ure that hinder or help the realization of freedom.Kleingeld’s account of patriotism appears to me to be an account of freedom without any  necessary  admixture of moral anthropology, andso seems to be a thoroughly  moralized   account of good patriotism.It concerns only the metaphysics of morals, including a suggestion patriotism, poverty, and global justice VOLUME 19 – 2  KANTIAN REVIEW |  255
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