|Kant's Thoughts On Society
Kant describes three main types of
governments and evaluates them. The first is an autocratic government where a single
person in the state has control over everyone else. He says that this form of government
is the simplest and most efficient of the three, though it is also, "the most
dangerous." He ranks democracy, where all the people have control over each other and
themselves, as the least efficient and the most complex. He says whichever form a state
adopts a republican constitution is needed, "in which the law is autonomous and is
not annexed to any particular person."
Kant emphasizes the importance of
our "respect for the rights of others" in powerful words: "There is nothing
more sacred in the wide world than the right of others. They are inviolable. Woe unto him
who trespasses upon the right of another and tramples it underfoot!"
Kant writes that a proper
understanding of justice must meet three conditions: first, the concept pertains only to
external, practical interpersonal relationships; second, it pertains only to the relations
between one person's will and another's (not to wishes, desires, or needs): and, third,
"the matter [content] of the will, that is, the end that a person intends to
accomplish," is irrelevant. Given these three restrictions, he writes, "Justice
is therefore the aggregate of those conditions under which the will of one person can be
conjoined with the will of another in accordance with a universal law of freedom."