Kenneth R. Westphal: Hegel’s Justification of the Human Right to Non-Domination

‘Hegel’ and ‘human rights’ are rarely conjoined, and the designation ‘human rights’ appears rarely in his works. Indeed, Hegel has been criticised for omitting civil and political rights all together. My surmise is that readers have looked for a modern Decalogue, and have neglected how Hegel justifies his views, and hence just what views he does justify. Philip Pettit (1997) has refocused attention on republican liberty. Hegel and I agree with Pettit that republican liberty is a supremely important value, but appealing to its value, or justifying it by appeal to reflective equilibrium, are insufficient both in theory and in practice. By reconstructing Kant’s Critical methodology and explicating the social character of rational justification in non-formal domains, Hegel shows that the republican right to non-domination is constitutive of the equally republican right to justification (Forst 2007) – both of which are necessary requirements for sufficient rational justification in all non-formal domains, including both claims to rights or imputations of duties or responsibilities. That is the direct moral, political and juridical implication of Hegel’s analysis of mutual recognition, and its fundamental, constitutive role in rational justification. Specific corollaries of the fundamental republican right to non-domination must be determined by considering what forms of illicit domination are possible or probable within any specific society, in view of its social, political and economic structures and functioning.

Kenneth R. Westphal is Professor of Philosophy, Boğaziçi Üniversitesi (İstanbul), and Professorial Fellow, School of Philosophy, University of East Anglia. He is one of four editors-in-chief of SATS – Northern European Journal of Philosophy (de Gruyter). He earned his doctorate in philosophy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1986). His primary research interest is the character and scope of rational justification in non-formal, substantive domains: in epistemology and history & philosophy of science, and in moral philosophy, including ethics, justice, philosophy of education & history and philosophy of law. His research integrates systematic analysis within contemporary and historical philosophy, and integrates analytic and hermeneutical approaches and methods.

Westphal was Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of New Hampshire (Durham), and held Professorships of Philosophy at the University of East Anglia (Norwich) and at the University of Kent (Canterbury). He has held Humboldt Fellowships at the universities of Heidelberg, Bielefeld and Göttingen, and was a Leibniz Visiting Scholar in Bielefeld. He held visiting professorships at Purdue University (West Lafayette, Ind.), Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.) and Martin-Luther-Universität (Halle a.d. Saale).

His books include Hegel’s Epistemological Realism (Kluwer, 1989), Hegel, Hume und die Identität wahrnehmbarer Dinge (Klostermann, 1998), Hegel’s Epistemology: A Philosophical Introduction to the Phenomenology of Spirit (Hackett, 2003), Kant’s Transcendental Proof of Realism (CUP 2004), and How Hume and Kant Reconstruct Natural Law: Justifying Strict Objectivity without Debating Moral Realism (Clarendon, 2016).  He edited Frederick L. Will’s papers, Pragmatism and Realism (Roman & Littlefield, 1997), Pragmatism, Reason and Norms (Fordham, 1998), The Blackwell Guide to Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit (2009), and Realism, Science and Pragmatism (Routledge, 2014). His next book, Grounds of Pragmatic Realism: Hegel’s Internal Critique & Transformation of Kant’s Critical Philosophy, is forthcoming with Brill in the series ‘Critical Studies in German Idealism’. He is completing a second volume on natural law constructivism, ‘Normative Justification, Natural Law & Kant’s Constructivism in Hegel’s Moral Philosophy’.