Diversity and Unity: An Attempt at Drawing a Justifiable Line

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This paper argues with Kant that the only justifiable basis for a legal system is an innate right to freedom, which is defined as the right to be subject only to universal law and not to the arbitrary choices of others. Since rightful interaction is possible only within public institutional frameworks, we cannot respect one another's innate right to freedom simply by interacting as virtuous individuals or as just states. In fact, only public authorities can have coercive authority, the rightfulness of which is dependent upon the institutional framework constitutive of them. Of particular interest here is the requirement on states to provide public, institutional solutions to problems such as poverty and the failures of economic and financial systems. In addition, I pay special attention to why only the national public authority can establish a monopoly on coercion even though the establishment of a public authority is constitutive also of transnational rightful relations.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
JournalArchiv fur Rechts- und Sozialphilosophie
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008


  • state of nature
  • public authorities
  • war
  • freedom
  • citizenship
  • peacetime
  • civil society
  • countries
  • humans


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