A special issue of Diametros: Kant on the relations between church and state


Arguably, many – if not most – of the western states may not be secular in the sense of observing the principle of separation between church and state or fully respecting the right of individuals to act in accordance with their religious creed (or its lack) (Bhargava 2016). But recently it has been claimed that religious liberty is in crisis and this diagnosis can motivate one to turn back to the philosophy of Immanuel Kant so as to reconsider the foundations of this ideal that is supposed to underlie modern pluralistic societies (Guyer 2018).

In his ethical and political writings – such as Metaphysik der Sitten, Beantwortung der Frage: Was ist Aufklärung? or Was heißt: sich im Denken orientieren? – Kant argues for religious liberty and freedom of conscience. On the basis of his arguments one could claim, for instance, that if a state taxes citizens to support religious institutions, it violates the innate right to freedom by using citizens’ property in a way many of them would disagree to. However, in Religion innerhalb der Grenzen der bloßen Vernunft, Kant offers an argument for a “visible church” – a community that could foster the moral development of humankind (e.g. RGV, AA 6:101; 6:152; 6:158; cf. Demiray 2017) – and thus seems to attribute to religious institutions an important role in the public sphere.

Against this background, the question emerges: How can commitment to the separation thesis be reconciled with the recognition of a crucial role of the “visible church” in shaping the ethical and cultural outlook of modern societies? Does this role, for example, entitle religious institutions to be supported by the state or to influence the state’s legislation? The planned special issue of Diametros welcomes all contributions that address this and related topics, such as the following: 

 - Kant and arguments for the separation between church and state in the late 17th century and in the Enlightenment;

- Contemporary arguments for (or against) secularism and the Kantian resources in political philosophy (John Rawls, Martha Nussbaum, Jocelyn Maclure et al.);

- Kant’s model of relations between religions in pluralistic societies in both a systematic and historical/comparative perspective (Kant vs. Locke, Kant vs. Spinoza, Kant vs. Mendelssohn);

- Kant’s conception of the church in both a systematic and historical/comparative perspective (e.g. Kant vs. “Christians without the church”, Kant vs. Prussian Religionspolitik);

- The radicalization of Kant’s philosophy of religion towards the end of his philosophical career, in particular in the Opus postumum;

- Other related topics, relevant to the issue of Kant and the church vs. state relations.



Formal requirements

All willing to contribute to the special issue are requested to submit their proposals through the online platform of Diametros: Articles should not exceed 10.000 words including footnotes, contain an abstract of about 150 words, as well as 5 to 8 keywords, and be prepared for a double-blind peer-review in accordance with the house style of the journal, specified in its website.

The deadline for submitting contributions to the special issue is 31st January 2020. Publication of the articles that will successfully pass all stages of the editorial process has been scheduled for June or September 2020. The editor of the special issue is Dr. Anna Tomaszewska. Should you have any queries concerning this publication project, please contact the editor at: