Kant and Rawls on rights and international relations

Sheriff, Faseeja (2014) Kant and Rawls on rights and international relations. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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The Kantian doctrine of rights is a conception of equality of human beings which in a sense is pre-moral, and expressed in the concept of a person. For Kant, “Recht” is that free action whose maxim can coexist with the freedom of everyone according to a universal law. A distinguishing feature of the Kantian doctrine of rights is that rights are correlative to coercible duties. To determine if it is possible for Kant’s ethical position to provide an adequate theory of right, a thorough critical examination of his position and its consequences will be engaged. This will involve showing how Kant derives each part of his theory from the former in order to put forth a coherent doctrine of rights that can be extended to international realms. The thesis is laid out as follows. The first two chapters present the development of the Kantian system of rights. Subsequently, chapter three discusses the Kantian principles of justice being put into practice, and shows his derivation of the right of nations. The latter part of chapter three discusses the Kantian account of justice beyond borders, to regulate relations between societies both domestically and internationally. Lastly, chapter four presents the Rawlsian system of rights, and of develops a framework for international relations while highlighting its pitfalls. An attempt is made to show that Kant’s notion of right is defensible as it offers a greater degree of moral authority and political potency as a framework for international relations grounded in the unrestricted workings of practical reason and is superior to Rawls’ attempt to construct such a framework as it relies on abstract hypothetical conditions. Within the Kantian system, it is the workings of practical reason that allows rational persons to recognize the need to resurrect institutions that protect equality and autonomy universally. When reason is not fully subjected to public, it runs the risk of forwarding improper ideas that may ultimately undermine the freedom of others. However, within the Rawlsian system, subjects of justice are merely capable of acting autonomously, rather than acting autonomously for the sake of justice in itself.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/8151
Item ID: 8151
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 57-59).
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Philosophy
Date: May 2014
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Kant, Immanuel, 1724-1804--Criticism and interpretation; Rawls, John, 1921-2002--Criticism and interpretation; Justice (Philosophy); International relations--Philosophy; Human rights

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