KANT, JUDGMENT AND THE SOCIAL CONTRACT TRADITION
Kant is sometimes seen as 'the most adequate of the Social Contract theorists'. Although he seems to provide evidence for this view, it is not clear what exactly the role and meaning of consent in his theory is. The authoress argues that for Kant social contract is not a device of justification but an element in the process of judgment. Its role is to help us see if a proposed public law is rightful. The main line of her argument is as follows. First, she shows the differences between Kant's use of the idea of social contract and the use of it made by the authors of the Social Contract tradition. Secondly, she shows that Kant did not need any theory of social contract because for him social contract is a means of 'translation' of the abstract requirements of the Categorical Imperative into specific demands of justice for a particular political community. The conclusion is somewhat paradoxical: if Kant was a social contract theorist (and she believes he was) he is of a peculiar kind. His use of social contract articulates the conditions which make thinking in terms of 'possible consent' a theoretically fruitful and inspiring enterprise.
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