Kant’s Nonideal Theory of Politics

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ISBN 978-0-8101-3988-6

E-book – $34.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-3989-3

Paper Text – $34.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-3987-9
Publication Date
April 2019
Page Count
216 pages
Trim Size
6 x 9

Kant’s Nonideal Theory of Politics

Dilek Huseyinzadegan

Kant’s Nonideal Theory of Politics argues that Kant’s political thought must be understood by reference to his philosophy of history, cultural anthropology, and geography. The central thesis of the book is that Kant’s assessment of the politically salient features of history, culture, and geography generates a nonideal theory of politics, which supplements his well-known ideal theory of cosmopolitanism. 

This novel analysis thus challenges the common assumption that an ideal theory of cosmopolitanism constitutes Kant’s sole political legacy. Dilek Huseyinzadegan demonstrates that Kant employs a teleological worldview throughout his political writings as a means of grappling with the pressing issues of multiplicity, diversity, and plurality—issues that confront us to this day.

Kant’s Nonideal Theory of Politics is the first book-length treatment of Kant’s political thought that gives full attention to the role that history, anthropology, and geography play in his mainstream political writings. Interweaving close textual analyses of Kant’s writings with more contemporary political frameworks, this book also makes Kant accessible and responsive to fields other than philosophy. As such, it will be of interest to students and scholars working at the intersections of political theory, feminism, critical race theory, and post- and decolonial thought. 
About the Author

DILEK HUSEYINZADEGAN is an assistant professor of philosophy at Emory University.

Kant’s Nonideal Theory of Politics gives us the first account of Kant’s politics that can encompass the whole of his systematic thought. Huseyinzadegan is working at the cutting edge of the field, bringing together insights from recent research with themes that have puzzled Kant’s interpreters for centuries. This book will be essential reading for Kant scholars and scholars of political thought, especially those interested in the intersection of ideal and nonideal theory.” —Elisabeth Ellis, author of Kant’s Politics: Provisional Theory for an Uncertain World

Kant’s Nonideal Theory of Politics demonstrates extensively how Kant complemented his ideal (a priori) theory of political right with a nonideal (regulative) theory of ‘political Zweckmässigkeit,’ seeking hypothetical principles for the constraints and accommodations actually facing human morality and political life. This book offers a robust model for Kantian political philosophy today.” —John Zammito, author of Kant, Herder, and the Birth of Anthropology

“Kant has often been criticized for focusing too much on ideal theory. Huseyinzadegan’s book provides an original, compelling, and balanced response.” —Karl Ameriks, author of Kant’s Elliptical Path

"Kant's Nonideal Theory of Politics makes an innovative and important intervention in current scholarship on Kant's political philosophy.” —Kristi Sweet, author of Kant on Practical Life: From Duty to History

“. . . Huseyinzadegan's interest is not restricted to correcting the old but still regnant view of Kant as the arch-rationalist and abstract moralist. Rather, she uncovers resources in Kant's political writings that could serve to orient contemporary political theory away from the stale debates about ethics-first idealism and pragmatic realism by illustrating how political philosophy can employ 'pictures of the whole of history, human nature, culture, or the world,' even while recognizing that such totalizing pictures are hypothetical postulations . . . Kant’s Nonideal Theory of Politics reminds us of an all-important truth: we can realize our moral ideals only if we begin by ‘taking human beings as situated in this less-than-ideal world.’” —Paul T. Wilford, The Review of Metaphysics

". . . an extremely valuable corrective to standard views of Kant’s legacy." —Journal of the History of Philosophy