Kant, Human Rights and Courts
This article by PluriCourts director Andreas Føllesdal appeared in Kantian Theory and Human Rights, edited by Andreas Follesdal and Reidar Maliks: Routledge. 2014, pp. 193-202. Read the article (SSRN).
It is, perhaps, not by chance that the steep increase in theories of human rights has been matched by a renaissance in studies of Kant’s political philosophy. The essays are animated by the idea that if we get a better grip on Kant’s philosophy of right, we can energize the creative endeavor of developing philosophical theories of human rights, inspired by his particular way of thinking about the relation between rights and the rule of law. Three features characteristic of Kant’s thinking frequently crop up in the following chapters and help explain why so much recent scholarship may indeed properly be called ‘Kantian’.
These features concern rights, legitimacy, and institutions. freedom is constituted by the rights and duties that enable individuals to be subject to the rule of law instead of arbitrary power. Second, political and legal authorities that establish human rights through law derive their legitimacy from being capable of justification to individuals. Third, the public institutions at the domestic and the international level are considered part of the same system. The contributions explore these Kantian principles in different directions.