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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: February 2020



Kant illustrates the Critique of Pure Reason with an intricate collection of legal images; the whole work is populated with laws, judges, lawyers, tribunals, legislators, witnesses and many other references to legal theory and practice. Both the critique of pure reason and reason as such are described as legislator, judge and tribunal. In the A edition’s preface, we learn that the task of a critique of reason is to institute a tribunal which is ‘none other than the critique of pure reason itself’ (A xii). In order to function as a court of justice, the critique of pure reason must also act ‘as wise legislators do’ (A 424/B 452) and revise proposed laws when they lead to contradictory judgements. Our approach to nature must be ‘like an appointed judge who compels witnesses to answer the questions he puts to them’ (B xiii). The critique of pure reason thus investigates whether reason can legislate and judge legitimately.