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The legitimacy of civil freedom
University of Toronto Law Journal  (IF1.234),  Pub Date : 2019-01-01, DOI: 10.3138/utlj.2018-0053
Florian Rödl

Abstract:Force and Freedom by Arthur Ripstein provides a comprehensive account of the modern legal system on a Kantian basis, reaching from private law to public international law. The legal system is presented as a coherent whole, solely based on the idea of equal freedom. Ripstein’s fundamental claim is twofold: first, the Kantian foundation is hermeneutically superior to alternative approaches to understanding the normative structure of the legal system; second, the modern legal system, due to its foundation in equal freedom, resides in reason and is thus normatively superior to alternative ideas of social ordering. Such a great work is typically subject to a wide range of objections. Some of them are raised in contributions to Freedom and Force, edited by Sari Kisilevsky and Martin Stone. This review essay attempts to explain Ripstein’s basic line of thought in Force and Freedom and to defend his account against some mistaken, but nevertheless illuminating, arguments from his critics in Freedom and Force. It then raises two further concerns, one internal, regarding the idea of justice in contractual exchange, and one external, regarding the cogency of a Kantian legitimation for the modern welfare state.