Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Paul Hurley

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This thesis works to unpack the ideal state government put forward in Kant’s political philosophy. Looking at the work of Arthur Ripstein, Helga Varden, Corey Brettschneider, and Iris Young, I will argue that the ideal Kantian government involves all citizens participating in their own self-governance through democracy. Within this democracy, Kant’s definition of individual freedom and requirements for active citizenship act as the procedural and substantive guidance and constraints for the procedures and outcomes of self-rule. Kant’s principles of individual freedom therefore need to be codified into a constitution that citizens can appeal to as both authors and addressees of the law. Further, in order to govern in accordance with all citizen’s mastery over themselves, a Kantian democracy must ensure that its laws are based purely on public purposes, which are best determined and secured through democratic exercises of deliberation, with the deliberation’s procedures and outcomes guided and constrained by the requirements of Kantian freedom. Finally, I will argue that the state has a positive obligation to create and uphold these public avenues of democratic deliberation and point to modern examples of governments who have done so.