Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal

Kant and Race, Redux, by Charles W. Mills

In “Kant and Race, Redux,” Charles W. Mills replies to critiques of his earlier essay “Kant’s Untermenschen” by Pauline Kleingeld, Robert Bernasconi, and Samuel Fleischacker, and defends further his main argument that Kant’s racial views affected centrally his ethico-political theory. The paper argues that for Kant not all biological humans are fully equal moral humans that meet the condition for ethical treatment. Full humans, or persons, need to be differentiated from “sub-persons” (“Untermenschen”), a radically different and inferior kind of humans. Such racial differentiation and hierarchy of human population reveals apparent contradiction between Kant’s anthropology and his general moral, political and teleological claims. To show the congruity of Kant’s views on race with the rest of his normative discourse, the author suggests taking a closer look at the modern western normative theory, fathered by Kant, that incorporates the ethical discourse, thereby rationalizing and justifying the racial hegemony of the west over the rest of the world.

Article available through Philosophy Documentation Center, here.


Charles W. Mills is John Evans Professor of Moral and Intellectual Philosophy at Northwestern University. His work is focused on social and political philosophy with special attention paid to questions of race, African-American philosophy, critical race theory, gender, and Marxism. He has published widely in the fields of political philosophy, including Radical Theory, Caribbean Reality: Race, Class and Social Domination (University of the West Indies Press, 2010), with Carole Pateman, Contract and Domination (Polity Press, 2007), From Class to Race: Essays in White Marxism and Black Radicalism (Rowman and Littlefield, 2003), Blackness Visible (Cornell University Press, 1998). His first book, The Racial Contract (Cornell University Press, 1997), was awarded a Myers Outstanding Book Award from the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights.

Charles W. Mills, “Kant and Race, Redux,” in “Philosophy and Race,” ed. Alexis Dianda and Robin M. Muller, special issue, Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 35:1–2 (2014), pp. 125–57.

About GFPJ

The Journal, published semi-annually in association with the Department of Philosophy at The New School for Social Research, provides a forum in which contemporary authors engage with the history of philosophy and its traditions.

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