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Human Rights in a Kantian Key

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 May 2019

Andrea Sangiovanni
Affiliation:
European University Institute
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Abstract

This article discusses Luigi Caranti’s Kant’s Political Legacy, which argues, among other things, that a Kantian reconstruction of dignity can provide a foundation for human rights. Caranti’s book is one of the most powerful recent reconstructions of Kant’s political philosophy. Four main points are argued in response. First, to what extent can dignity understood as a value ground the essentially relational character of human rights claims? Second, does Caranti explain why our mere rational capacity to set moral ends has dignity rather than the realization of that capacity in a morally righteous will? Third, how can the argument provided avoid the conclusion that, because people’s capacities vary, their dignity varies too? Fourth, is Kant’s political philosophy incompatible with our modern understanding of human rights and, in particular, their function in international law and practice?

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© Kantian Review, 2019 

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References

Caranti, L. (2017) Kant’s Political Legacy: Human Rights, Peace, Progress. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.Google Scholar
Kant, I. (1999) Practical Philosophy. Ed. Gregor, M.. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
McMahan, J. (2002) The Ethics of Killing. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pufendorf, S. (1729 [1672) Of the Law of Nature and Nations. Trans. Kennett, B.. London: Walthoe.Google Scholar
Sangiovanni, A. (2015) ‘Why there Cannot be a Truly Kantian Theory of Human Rights’. In Cruft, R. and Renzo, M. (eds), Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights (Oxford: Oxford University Press), pp. 671–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sangiovanni, A. (2017) Humanity without Dignity: Moral Equality, Respect, and Human Rights. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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