Kant and Political Willing (September · 2019)
- PhD Thesis on Philosophy
- London School of Economics and Political Science
- Supervisor: Flikschuh, Katrin
- © 2019 · Paola Romero
This thesis makes two claims: first, that conflict is constitutive of human agency, and second, that this understanding of agency in terms of conflict makes politics a problem about the will. I develop an argument to show how these two claims weave together to create the fabric of Kant’s account of political willing. From this Kantian approach to conflict and agency, the systematic question animating this thesis thereby arises: what are the conditions that make political willing possible? This thesis defends the notion of political willing as a placeholder for a number of inter-woven conditions that make political life in common possible. As a form of rightful interaction between free agents of choice, this form of willing emerges in Kant from the constitutive features of what it means to be an agent in a world with others agents. This relation between agents makes conflict unavoidable, a conflict which only a will that is public, omnilateral, and coercive, can rightfully resolve. I trace the development of this model of political willing in three spheres of Kant’s thought: (i) individual ethics, (ii) teleology, and (iii) politics. I conclude that Kant’s view of politics is, in some ways, more Hobbesian than Hobbes’: for Kant, conflict cannot and should not be fully eradicated, if we are to take seriously equality between agents. Life under the state is not conflict-free, but rather it is a sphere made to preserve and to safeguard the boundaries of a shared political life, always prone to conflict.