Hegel and Right

A Study of the Philosophy of Right

By Philip J. Kain

Subjects: Hegel, German Idealism, Political Philosophy, History Of Philosophy, Philosophy
Hardcover : 9781438470795, 254 pages, August 2018
Paperback : 9781438470788, 254 pages, July 2019

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Table of contents


1. The Idea of Right

End of History
Structure, Method, and Development

2. Abstract Right

Right and Spirit

3. Moralität

The Right of Subjectivity
The Categorical Imperative
Moralität and Freedom

4. Sittlichkeit: The Family

Transition from Moralität to Sittlichkeit
The Family and Love

5. Sittlichkeit: Civil Society

Civil Society as Sittlichkeit
The Failure of Civil Society?
The Solution

6. Sittlichkeit: The State

Democracy vs. Monarchy
The Realization of Rationality
World History
The Absolute


An especially accessible introduction to Hegel’s moral and political philosophy.


In this book, Philip J. Kain introduces Hegel's Philosophy of Right by focusing on disagreements, both with standard interpretations of his work and with Hegel himself. Arguing that Hegel's justification for punishment ultimately fails, Kain shows how this failure brings into focus the inherent difficulties in justifying punishment at all, thus producing a valuable Hegelian argument against punishment. Whereas many of Hegel's critics have argued that he misunderstands Kant's categorical imperative, Kain argues the opposite: that Hegel has a sophisticated understanding of it and simply attempts to provide a broader ethical context for Kant's position. In addressing these and other questions, such as whether Hegel's theory of recognition, properly understood, can provide philosophical support for same-sex marriage, and whether supporting monarchy over democracy means that Hegel seeks less rather than greater power for the state, Kain makes Hegel's work more approachable by drawing out philosophical points of independent importance.

Philip J. Kain is Professor of Philosophy at Santa Clara University and the author of several books, including Hegel and the Other: A Study of the Phenomenology of Spirit, also published by SUNY Press.


"…[a] captivating book. " — Philosophia

"…a worthwhile book that touches on some controversial issues. " — Journal of the History of Philosophy