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Kant’s Nomads: Encountering Strangers

Research paper by Katrin Flikschuh

Indexed on: 23 Nov '17Published on: 13 Jun '17Published in: Con-Textos Kantianos (International Journal of Philosophy)



Abstract

There is a tendency within the literature to decry Kant as either a proto-imperialist or as a proto-democrat in relation to his views on distant strangers. I here take an alternative view, arguing that Kant’s cosmopolitan morality is considerably more context-sensitive than is often assumed. More specifically, I argue that Kant’s encounter with American nomads on the final pages of his Doctrine of Right reflects a nuanced reading of European settlers’ requisite comportment towards them: Kant neither endorses a universal duty of state entrance nor does he place nomads beyond all possible moral engagement with European settlers.   There is a tendency within the literature to decry Kant as either a proto-imperialist or as a proto-democrat in relation to his views on distant strangers. I here take an alternative view, arguing that Kant’s cosmopolitan morality is considerably more context-sensitive than is often assumed. More specifically, I argue that Kant’s encounter with American nomads on the final pages of his Doctrine of Right reflects a nuanced reading of European settlers’ requisite comportment towards them: Kant neither endorses a universal duty of state entrance nor does he place nomads beyond all possible moral engagement with European settlers.