Kate A. Moran
March 10, 2021
Kant makes and elaborates upon a distinction between active citizenship and passive citizenship. Active citizens enjoy the right to vote and rights of political participation generally. Passive citizens do not, though they still enjoy the protection of the law as citizens. Kant’s examples have left commentators puzzling over how these distinctions follow from his stated rationale or justification for active citizenship, namely, that active citizens possess a kind of political and economic self-sufficiency. This essay focuses on one subset passive citizenry – that of traveling blacksmiths, barbers, and day laborers in order to examine Kant’s distinctions. I argue that these examples show that Kant’s concerns regarding dependence are, at least in some cases, pragmatic rather than political.