XI KANT KONGRESS, XI Congresso Kantiano Internazionale

The Boundaries of the Law: Kant and the secular State

Daniela Tafani

Edificio: Facoltà di Agraria
Sala: sala Wolff
Data: 22 maggio 2010 - 14:30
Ultima modifica: 13 aprile 2010

Abstract

The centuries-old conception of the secular State, based on the separation between ethics and law, may at first sight appear to be far removed from Kant’s moral doctrine, since he relates both ethics and law – in the ambit of the metaphysics of morals – to the same legislation.
However, the outcome of the Kantian foundation of the principle of law is that it rigorously delimits its area of pertinence, providing a moral justification of coercion for that sphere alone: what law derives from morals is the obligation to protect individual freedom, and the faculty to do so coercively. This entails a liberal conception of the State, the sole function of which is to safeguard the right to freedom, that is to say, to guarantee the security of all. Any State intervention intended to improve the well-being or morality of its citizens at the expense of their freedom – presuming that they are in a condition of minority and illegitimately undertaking to protect them – is morally prohibited and, as a consequence, in a far from obvious step, juridically null and void.