published on November 28, 2017
Primacy of Factuality
Remarks on Kenneth Westphal’s "Hegel, Natural Law & Moral Constructivism"
I begin my comment on Westphal’s study by exploring briefly his refutation of “the arbitrariness thesis,” and then focusing on the “conditio humanae,” i.e. the conditions of life as freedom realized in common life. As I understand it, coordination and cooperation among persons are required because employing freedom in the presence of others presupposes an act of recognition that acknowledges a priori the necessity of universal respect. The right to use and possess things within the institution of property is an illustrative example of this necessity. Justice requires possession not in the form of some equal distribution (which is a matter of contingency) but as a normative requirement that “everyone shall have property.” One must have property in order to enter the world of inter-subjectivity and become a person. This has important implications for determining how poverty is related to the validity of laws, which depends on the joint legislative will of all persons.