The Owl of Minerva

Volume 48, Issue 1/2, 2016/2017

Mark Alznauer
Pages 45-56

Is Hegel a Natural Law Constructivist?

In a series of impressive articles, Kenneth Westphal argues that Hegel should be understood as a natural law constructivist. In this essay, I examine what Westphal means by this, showing that any such position requires postulating rights or duties that exist prior to the formation of political institutions. I show that Hegel consistently denies the existence of any such natural rights or duties and conclude that he must have a fundamentally different, non-foundationalist conception of the fundamental task of moral philosophy.