Freedom in general: The general will in classical German philosophy / Jerome Michael Nance.
ix, 312 p. ; 29 cm.
- Local subjects:
- Penn dissertations -- Philosophy.
Philosophy -- Penn dissertations.
- My thesis tracks the attempts of Kant, Fichte, and Hegel to incorporate two Rousseauian concepts -- the "general will" and "moral freedom" -- into their political thought. Rousseau's idea is that a person is free just in case she is subject only to her own will, not the will of any other. How, then, can a person be both free and subject to the laws of the state? Two conditions must be met. First, the laws must objectively express the general will of the society's citizens for the common good. Second, citizens must subjectively identify with the general will of the state as expressive of their own will -- in other words, citizens must have general wills. If these two conditions are met, then citizens enjoy what Rousseau calls "moral freedom." In keeping with this two-part analysis, I argue that Kant provides a compelling account of the necessary objective content of the general will, while Fichte and especially Hegel provide sophisticated analyses of the social conditions under which citizens are able, subjectively, to develop and maintain general wills. According to Kant, the general will as embodied in the institutions of the state must secure the rule of law, a system of property rights, a republican government, and the welfare of the poor. But the existence of a state in accordance with these principles is not yet sufficient to secure the moral freedom of its citizens. For that, citizens also must have general wills. The concept of recognition , introduced by Fichte and then developed by Hegel, is the key to understanding how socio-political institutions can encourage citizens to will the common good and thus have general wills. If political institutions provide sites of recognition between citizens and the state, then citizens are able to identify consciously with the general will of the state. Thus I argue that by combining elements from Kant, Fichte, and Hegel, we can arrive at the outlines of a complete theory of justice constructed around the idea of the general will that meets both the objective and subjective conditions of Rousseauian moral freedom.
- Adviser: Paul Guyer.
Thesis (Ph.D. in Philosophy) -- University of Pennsylvania, 2011.
Includes bibliographical references.
- Guyer, Paul, advisor.
University of Pennsylvania.
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