Metaphysical Elements of Justice: Part I of the Metaphysics of Morals

By Immanuel Kant; J. H. Ladd | Go to book overview

Translator's Addendum
of Omitted Texts

“The following passages were removed from the main text because they
appear to represent earlier formulations of ideas and duplicate materials
found elsewhere in the main text.”


(1) From § 6, paragraphs 4–8 in AA 250–251.

In this way, taking possession of a secluded piece of land is an act of private will without being an arbitrary usurpation. The possessor bases his act on “the concept of” the innate common possession of the earth's surface and on the a priori general Will corresponding to it, which permits private possession of land (since otherwise unoccupied things “e.g. land” would in themselves and in accordance with a law become ownerless things). Thus, the possessor originally acquires a piece of land through first possession and withstands by right “mit Recht” (iure) anyone else who might interfere with his private use of it. In a state of nature, however, he cannot do this through legal proceedings “rechtswegen” (de iure), for there is no public law in that condition.

Even if a piece of land is regarded as free or declared to be so, that is, open for everyone's use, one still cannot say that it is free by nature or free originally, prior to any juridical act. Even that would be a relationship to things, namely, to the land that refuses possession of itself to everyone. But this freedom of the land consists in a prohibition addressed to everyone not to help himself to it; for this common possession of the land would be required and cannot take place without a contract. Because a piece of land can be made free only through a contract, it must actually be in the possession of all those (united together) who mutually prohibit to themselves the use thereof or suspend such use.


Remark:

The original community of the land and, along with the land, of the things on it (communio fundi originaria) is an Idea that has objective (juridical-practical) reality. This kind of community must be sharply distinguished from the primitive community (communio primaeva), which is a fiction. Such a primitive community would have to have been a community founded on and issuing out of a contract, a contract through which everyone is

-183-

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