As I did read, it does not look like Kantian ethics favors socialism (especially given it requires slavery by economic imperative), but I would like a more rigorous analysis.

Note that

  1. Recall that the definition of Socialism (at least in what is the concern of a Economist) is the public ownership of the means of production (Ball et. al).

  2. Recall that Anarchism is the view that a society without the state, or government, is both possible and desirable (Crowder, 1998).

  3. Anarcho-Socialism is a self-contradicting concept because you cannot have public property without some kind of state.

  4. Note that as explained by this paper, democratic socialism is politically impossible because it would imply (1) slavery, (2) suppression of the free press. With a similar argument that can be trivially derived by the same economic proofs, is to say that ancho-socialism is politically impossible.

Some previous research



APA References

Ball, T. and Dagger, . Richard (Invalid Date). socialism. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/topic/socialism

Crowder, G.(1998). Anarchism. In The Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Taylor and Francis. Retrieved 23 Feb. 2022, from https://www.rep.routledge.com/articles/thematic/anarchism/v-1. doi:10.4324/9780415249126-S003-1

  • 2
    Just as lazy as many misinterpretations of the term "socialism" (mainly driven ideologically by the Chicago School of economics btw) and the inability to distinguish the economic theory of Marx from his political errands (that, in turn, are more likely due to Engels).
    – Philip Klöcking
    Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 8:39
  • 2
    @ErdelvonMises: A state is usually thought to be linked to territorial claims against other states (not proprietorial). A mere body of people is not a state or every political party would be a state within the state. The ideal in Marx is that we have groups of equals who collectively and freely decide over what they produce and own what they produce, which necessitates that they - as a social group - own the means of production. This is close to the Kantian concept of sui generis being necessary for actual political freedom. And this theory as such leaves the question of state open.
    – Philip Klöcking
    Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 9:13
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    The state ownership comes into play as material condition since only a state is able to reorganize private property from individual to social ownership, having the actual power to do so. Therefore, it is seen as a necessary transient state - in Marx. Socialism has sadly become identified with what was called "real socialism" (Realer Sozialismus) by the autocratic systems of the political "east" (Soviet Republic, GDR, Cuba, early China, etc.). Thus, this is the common use of the term these days. That does not mean that it is what originally was intended and thought with this term.
    – Philip Klöcking
    Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 9:15
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    @ErdelvonMises: It is very honest insofar as he describes how the contemporary economical and political elites (which are closely intertwined) will do anything in their power to prevent the redistribution of property that is necessary to achieve actual freedom for everybody. Therefore, this redistribution is necessary against violent resistance. The outcome is a revolution, the swifter, the better. Marx, much like Kant btw, basically said that you cannot be truly free as long as you have to work for others. One may think of that as one may, but the line of thought is coherent.
    – Philip Klöcking
    Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 9:38
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    @ErdelvonMises: If Marxian socialism is compatible with Kantian thought and the socialism of real politics is not, the discussion of this difference is important to the question. You cannot discuss one framework in terms of a different one if the concepts behind the terms are different. And you cannot use terms to your liking, this is intellectual dishonesty. If worker unions are states, so is the Democratic Party of the US or the German CDU with their hundreds of thousands of members and hierarchical structure. That does not make any sense. I'll withdraw from this discussion now.
    – Philip Klöcking
    Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 10:13

2 Answers 2


Ethics is preoccupied with judging actions and behaviors, not with economical systems. As such, even benign dictatorships with slavery can persist for some time with all actors behaving ethically given any ethical framework. And the most ideal and egalitarian economic system can exist with all actors doing horrible unethical things all day for years.

Even worse, the core of Kantian ethics is relative morality, allowing different people to reasonably disagree on any subject of morality based on their individual values. So asking a question about objective judgement in a subjective framework seems to miss the whole point.

Kant himself lived before a public debate on capitalism vs. socialism was a thing, so he could not comment on that.

So the question as phrased makes no sense.

And an analysis of economical models probably belongs to a different site than this one.

  • Ethics is inextricably tied to economic and political systems. Any kind of action that can cause harm or benefit - economic, political, military, private - may be moral or immoral. Most would say slavery is immoral. Some would say capitalism leads to immoral greed among the few to the detriment of the many. Others would say communism leads to immoral concentration of political power to the detriment of the many. Some would say taxation involves immoral theft, others would say taxation is a moral duty for the public benefit.
    – causative
    Commented Feb 27, 2022 at 3:32
  • "linked". Sure. Anything can be linked to ethics. That does not mean any question is on topic for this site, just because it can be linked to ethics.
    – tkruse
    Commented Feb 27, 2022 at 6:16

First of all, socialism is not incomparable with capitalism. The position of market socialism can broadly be described as the belief that lasse faire capitalism is flawed and should be replaced with an alternative form of capitalism.

Second, as far as I know Kant wrote nothing on economics. The most prominent philosopher who applied Kantian ethics to economic thought was undoubtedly John Rawls:

John Rawls was arguably the most important political philosopher of the twentieth century... [Rawls] aims to build on Kant’s central ideas and to improve on them in certain respects.

Rawls himself explicitly denied that he was a socialist of capitalist.

The theory of justice does not by itself favor either form of regime [capitalism or socialism]. As we have seen, the decision as to which system is best for a given people depends upon their circumstances, institutions, and historical traditions.

It is noteworthy that both Rawls and Kant attempt to avoid an ethnocentrism using this tactic. However, other claim that Rawls' society could only be possible under socialism, while other claim the same thing about capitalism. Personally, I believe this results from different philosophers using different definitions of 'socialism' and less on what his ideal society would actually look like. As the SEP notes:

In his 1924 Dictionary of Socialism, Angelo Rappoport canvassed no fewer than forty definitions of socialism.

  • What happened with the Human Right of Private Property?, Clearly Socialism go against that Right, thus Justice only favors Capitalism. Commented Feb 27, 2022 at 12:45
  • Capitalism and Market are no the same. Capitalism is private ownership of the means of production, thus basically all the market socialism mentioned in the encyclopedia are no capitalism. Commented Feb 28, 2022 at 1:45
  • @ErdelvonMises Read Art 14 Abs. 2 GG (German constitution, human right to own property): The maxim "Property has its [social] responsibilities" is known since Cicero. The UN charta even explicitly mentions social ownership (ownership by groups). You appear increasingly delusional with your partisan use of terms.
    – Philip Klöcking
    Commented Feb 28, 2022 at 13:57
  • @PhilipKlöcking You mean the Charta of the International Mafia to the Expansion of Pure Socialism officially know as UN[1]?. Or the German government that support systematic stealing thought Inflation (University of California Libraries, 1900) policies by the ECB, and does comply with the enforcement by treat of force of value over the FIAT currency called Euro (Thus inflicting human rights). PD1: I am sure a economist would no disagree with my use of the terms. PD2: What are that "social" responsibilities? Commented Feb 28, 2022 at 23:39
  • @PhilipKlöcking [1]: Just the fact that they thing that education is a human right and ignore the basic economic fact that minimal wage either create unemployment or just is plain impact-less is enough , because they support minimal wage. Is enough to prove they as the said. University of California Libraries. (1900). The American dictionary of the English language. New York: Collier. archive.org/details/americandiction00lyon Commented Feb 28, 2022 at 23:40

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