I’m happy to announce that this week we will get to mix things up a bit. Erik Dempsey, a post-doctorate fellow with the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Study of Core Texts and Ideas here at UT, will deliver a talk over Kant’s political philosophy. For most of us, our study of Kant covers mainly his ethical theories and his epistemological ideas. We rarely – if ever – think of Kant as a political thinker, but the fact is that he contributed much to political theory, especially on international relations. Dempsey will focus on a particular topic of Kant’s thought: the relationship of theory to practice in political right. Most of us will recall the exceedingly stringent character of Kant’s categorical imperative, and how it binds our every action in an unforgiving way. What’s striking about this, as we will see, is that politically Kant was something like a libertarian, and wanted to confer on every individual the maximum amount of liberty possible. The tension is immediately recognizable: how is it possible for Kant to combine a teaching of such strict moral absoluteness with a political teaching which tries to leave individuals as much freedom as possible? This is what Mr. Dempsey will attempt to make clear to us.
Hopefully you guys can join us for what will prove to be a very interesting discussion. As always, it will be on Friday at 4:30 PM in GAR 3.116.
Kyle and Armando, co-presidents.
PS: Please find attached the relevant reading, or please visit https://webspace.utexas.edu/aml2547/UPA/Kant reading.pdf. The first page is a mis-scan, so please proceed to the second page where the chapter “ On The Relationship of Theory to Practice in Political Right” begins.