Using the definition of neoliberalism (will not paste here), and Kan't third category being of relation, primarily his disjunctive judgement, hence community, and its application to the notion of neoliberalism.

Do they share similarities, such that a kantian thinker would be pro-neoliberal, or do they conflict, in regards to what a community represents. For some, a community represented by a neoliberal can be summed by the term homo economicus.

Whilst reading Kant and the concept of community by Charlton Payne, he describes 6 common notions of community by kant:

  1. The category of community. This is derived from the disjunctive form of judgment and Kant often identifies it with the concept of interaction.
  2. The scientific notion of interaction. This concept is introduced in the Third Analogy and developed in the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science.
  3. A metaphysical idea. The idea of a world of individuals (monads) in interaction. This idea was developed in his precritical period and can be found in his metaphysics lectures.
  4. A moral ideal. The idea of a realm of ends. 3
  5. A political ideal. The idea of a political community (or community of communities) governed by juridical laws.
  6. A theological ideal. What Kant calls “the kingdom of heaven,” which can be thought of as a community of holy beings, or angels.

How does neoliberalism fit in with this, especially with no.5?

  • 2
    I think it is moot to use his theoretical table of categories and apply it to human community. That being said, his remarks on economics are scarce and mostly tied to the right to vote as far as I'm aware. And since the politician should act morally according to him, I do see no way in which this should be compatible with economic (neo)liberalism. Rather, the German Ordoliberalism (which was the 'original' neoliberalism, but runs diametrically to the modern use) seems influenced by Kantian thought.
    – Philip Klöcking
    Aug 30, 2020 at 22:14
  • Syncretism at its best Jul 18 at 0:27

2 Answers 2


If we associate liberalism with pluralism (idk about neo-liberalism in particular), then we might connect Kant's disjunctive judgments therewith by means of the example he gives of the foundation of the world: either the world exists by chance, internal necessity, or as created. We can accept the disjunction but not any specific disjunct (though for Kant, hope might be directed at such propositions).

So sociopolitically, we might assert that there is a mutually exclusive, exhaustive disjunction over some question, and then somehow act on this plurality (designing laws to support/express it). Rawls might be a detailed example of how we might do such a thing.


Neoliberalism takes it point of departure from Milton Friedmanns evocation of the market as the primary arbiter of the political-economic realm. Its very different from classical liberalism which one could well think was rooted in Kants ideal of a political community and in fact, antithetical to it.

The classical liberal thinker aims at realising the greatest chance for the greatest number of people to pursue their own or communal good unfettered by irrational or alienating forces, institutions or customs. This is not a new idea but rooted in Plato's notion of the political community. They recognised a variety of thought and actions of men and women individually and plurally:

  • theoretical reason, this is the pursuit of the objective sciences, whether its aim takes as its subject, nature or the nature of man and his community or the relation between him and the world. What antiquity would have recognised as cosmology.

  • Practical Reason, this is reasoned thought in the moral sphere leading to ethical action or moral knowledge or reasoned thought in the commercial sphere leading to commercial knowledge and/or wealth.

  • Aesthetic Reason, leading to art, music, architecture and literature.

  • Spiritual Reason/Faith, reasoning based on scripture and faith.

  • Philosophical Reason, thought on the whole leading to wisdom.

Marxists argue that economic reason, once a part of practical reason, has now come to dominate the whole, to become its hegonomic power, and this is why they call this era, the era of capitalism. They further argue that such dominating and hegonomic market logic is alienating because it marginalises all other varieties of thought and action by subordinating them to itself and in this sense, it is also irrational, because it does not aim at the good of the whole - which is reasonable as the classic liberal would argue - but for the good of business and which means for a few and not for the many, and certainly not the greatest many.

This argument was taken seriously enough that in the 20C, Europe was devoted to, in the Western half, to reform of Capitalism and in the East, to revolution. However, since Friedmann, the pendulum has swung in the other direction, and reinforced market logic under the cover of neoliberalism although it is in serious conflict with traditional or classical liberalism.

To sum up, there is no serious continuity of thought with Kant and neoliberalism. And in fact, there is no serious continuity with classical liberalism and neoliberalism, despite the name: Neoliberalism is a wolf in sheep's clothing.

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