Kantian Imperfect Duties and Modern Debates over Human Rights


Hope S (2014) Kantian Imperfect Duties and Modern Debates over Human Rights. Journal of Political Philosophy, 22 (4), pp. 396-415.

First paragraph: THE notion of an imperfect duty is a confused one in contemporary moral and political philosophy. This confusion is caused in part by a degree of talking past each other that often occurs when the perfect/imperfect distinction is invoked. Modern Kantians have offered understandings of imperfect duty that aim to remain faithful to Kant's own, and have deployed these within various debates: about the limits of human rights talk, for example, or about the nature of supererogation.1 But the distinction between perfect and imperfect duty has a significant and varied history prior, and subsequent, to Kant. Modern Kantians' philosophical interlocutors typically bring with them assumptions about imperfect duty that belong to non-Kantian ways of understanding the distinction, and it is too often assumed (by all sides) that everyone has the same understanding of imperfect duty in mind.

Journal of Political Philosophy: Volume 22, Issue 4

Publication date31/12/2014
Publication date online09/10/2013