chapter  VII
LIBERALISM, INEQUALITY AND SOCIAL DEPENDENCE
Pages 15

In this chapter I show the difficulties that Kant has with structured relations of dependency. His moral theory tends to assume that people can live independent and self-sufficient lives until they call upon the help and support of others. I argue that specific kinds of social relations tend to create but also conceal situations of dependency and subordination. Kant’s concepts of respect and equality fail to illuminate relations of structured dependency which go beyond individual interactions and do not simply depend upon the qualities of individuals. But if Kant does not want relations of subordination and dependency to threaten his sense of equality of people before the moral law, he is consistent enough to deny people full rights of citizenship. At least he does not pretend that people have an independence and autonomy which they do not enjoy in their everyday lives. In this way, at least, he was forced to recognise the significance of social relations of power and subordination.