GV4B6      Half Unit
Kant's Political Philosophy

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Katrin Flikschuh CON6.08


This course is available on the MSc in European Studies: Ideas and Identities, MSc in European Studies: Ideas and Identities (LSE and Sciences Po) and MSc in Political Theory. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Optional for MSc Political Theory, MSc European Studies: Ideas and Identities and LSE-Sciences Po Double Degree in European Studies; open to others as an outside option on request.

Course content

An introduction to and critical appraisal of Immanuel Kant's political philosophy. Despite the enormous influence which Kant's moral philosophy has exerted on debates in contemporary liberal thinking, his political philosophy has until recently been largely ignored. This is beginning to change: Kant's political philosophy is beginning to be studied in its own right. Such study shows that his political thinking diverges in many of its central aspects from contemporary liberal thinking: the impact of Kant's thought upon the latter must, therefore, be re-assessed. Through close reading and analysis of the primary texts, this course introduces students to Kant's distinctive approach to political thinking. Core texts will include selected passages from the Doctrine of Right (Part 1 of the Metaphysics of Morals); Kant's celebrated essay, 'On Perpetual Peace'; and his less well known, but no less important essay 'On the Common Saying: "This may be true in theory, but does it work in Practice".' The analytic and substantive focus will be on three interrelated themes: Kant's idea of freedom as an idea of reason; his account and justification of individual property rights; and his cosmopolitan conception of Right, or justice. Although the analytic and philosophical focus will be on Kant's own political thinking, we shall throughout compare and contrast Kant's position with contemporary Kantian liberalism.


20 hours of seminars in the LT.

Additional one-to-one advice sessions on assessed essay writing in ST.

Formative coursework

Students are expected to come well prepared and take an active role in seminar discussion. They are expected to write to short formative essays which will be marked and commented, but do not count towards formal assessment for this course.

Indicative reading

I. Kant, The Metaphysics of Morals, Part 1; I Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals; Patrick Riley; M Timmons (ed.), Kant's Metaphysical of Morals. Interpretative Essays; R Beiner & W Booth, Kant and Political Philosophy: The Contemporary Legacy; Katrin Flikschuh, Kant and Modern Political Philosophy; M Bohmann & T McCarthy (Eds), On Perpetual Peace; Otfried Höffe, Kant's Cosmopolitan Theory of Law and Peace; Arthur Ripstein, Force and Freedom; Onora O'Neill, Towards Justice and Virtue; Onora O'Neill, Constructions of Reason.


Essay (100%, 6000 words) in the ST.

Student performance results

(2009/10 - 2011/12 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 15.8
Merit 54.4
Pass 28.1
Fail 1.8

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2012/13: Unavailable

Average class size 2012/13: Unavailable

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills