Kant’s Political Philosophy

Riley, Patrick, Kant's Political Philosophy, Totowa, N.J.: Rowman and Littlefield, 1983.

From a review:

While post-modernists and communitarians might seek to reinter the only recently revived body of Kant’s political thought, this collection indicates the continuing vitality of Kantianism. Howard Lloyd Williams has assembled thirteen stimulating essays– seven of which have appeared elsewhere — written by a diverse group of scholars. Representing four countries and three disciplines, they include law professor Ernest Weinrib, political scientists Patrick Riley, Susan Shell, and Susan Mendus, and philoso- phers Otfried Htffe, Roger Scruton, and Samuel Fleischacker. The essays range from an exploration of Kant’s precritical writings (Shell) through examinations of particular interpretive issues (Weinrib, Fleischacker, Kersting, Atkin- son, and Nicholson) and attempts to situate Kant within a wider debate (Williams, Htffe, Scruton, Mendus, and Smith), to efforts to offer some sort of systematic ac- count of Kant’s philosophy and politics (O’Neill and Riley).

There are advantages and disadvantages to encompassing so many topics in one collection. On the one hand, the reader can sample in one place a variety of approaches to Kant studies. American readers can become acquainted with the efforts of their colleagues abroad. Political scientists and philosophers can examine one another’s scholarship. Indeed, inasmuch as they tend to display national and disciplinary insular- ity, some of the essays in the volume inadvertently argue for the necessity of such exchange and cross-fertilization. For example, Mendus’s treatment of the place of women in Kant’s political thought would have profited from Shell’s presentation of the philosophical results of Kant’s encounter with Rousseau. And Atkinson would have been less bemused by Kant’s “rigorism” regarding punishment if he had been ac- quainted with Fleischacker’s essay on that subject.

Review by Joseph Knippenberg, Journal of the History of Philosophy, Vol 32, No. 4