Kant’s Model for Building the True Church: Transcending “Might Makes Right” and “Should Makes Good” through the Idea of a Non-Coercive Theocracy

Stephen Palmquist

About author

Prof. Stephen Palmquist (龐思奮)
Department of Religion and Philosophy
Hong Kong Baptist University
Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR

E-mail: stevepq@hkbu.edu.hk


Kant’s Religion postulates the idea of an ethical community as a necessary requirement for humanity to become good. Few interpreters acknowledge Kant’s claims that realizing this idea requires building a “church” characterized by unity, integrity, freedom, and unchangeability, and that this new form of community is a non-coercive version of theocracy. Traditional (e.g., Jewish) theocracy replaces the political state of nature (“might makes right”) with an ethical state of nature (“should makes good”); non-coercive theocracy transcends this distinction, uniting humanity in a common vision of a divine legislator whose legislation is inward: the law of love binds church members together like families.

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