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Philosophy Criticism

Categorical Principles of Law

A Counterpoint to Modernity

by (author) Otfried Höffe

translated by Mark Migotti

Penn State University Press
Initial publish date
Aug 2002
Criticism, Political, Good & Evil, Ethics & Moral Philosophy
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Dec 2001
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2002
    List Price

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In Germany, Otfried Höffe has been a leading contributor to debates in moral, legal, political, and social philosophy for close to three decades. Höffe's work (like that of his contemporary, Jürgen Habermas), brings into relief the relevance of these German discussions to their counterparts in English-language circles.

In this book, originally published in Germany in 1990 and expanded since, Höffe proposes an extended and original interpretation of Kant‚ philosophy of law, and social morality. Höffe articulates his reading of Kant in the context of an account of modernity as a "polyphonous project," in which the dominant themes of pluralism and empiricism are countered by the theme of categorically binding moral principles, such as human rights. Paying equal attention to the nuances of Kant's texts and the character of the philosophical issues in their own right, Höffe ends up with a Kantianism that requires, rather than precludes, a moral anthropology and that questions the fashionable juxtaposition of Kant and Aristotle as exemplars of incompatible approaches to ethical and political thought.


About the authors

Otfried Höffe is Professor Philosophy Emeritus at the Eberhard Karls University in Tübingen, Germany and director of the Research Center for Political Philosophy.

Otfried Höffe's profile page

Mark Migotti is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Calgary.

Mark Migotti's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“Kantian theories of law and politics are not well understood in English-language philosophy, which has tended to ignore Kant’s actual writings on these topics in favor of his more foundational ethical works, from which philosophers often draw erroneous inferences about what the ‘Kantian’ view must be on issues of applied ethics and political philosophy. Höffe’s book is a much-needed presentation of a contemporary Kantian position by a leading German philosopher of law, containing a thoughtful critical response to the positions of Rawls and Habermas. Migotti’s translation is smooth, accurate, and a scholarly achievement all by itself.”

—Allen Wood, Stanford University

“The book offers a highly interesting critical reinterpretation and defense of Kant’s doctrine of right.”

—Lars Vinx, Ethics

Other titles by Otfried Höffe