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Kant and Perpetual Peace 24 September 2008. What does “perpetual peace” mean?

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Presentation on theme: "Kant and Perpetual Peace 24 September 2008. What does “perpetual peace” mean?"— Presentation transcript:

1 Kant and Perpetual Peace 24 September 2008

2 What does “perpetual peace” mean?

3 Is an end to war possible? If we cannot be certain that it is not possible, then it is a duty to try to make it a reality. –It must not be contrary to nature –Morals must not be utterly incompatible with politics

4 The State of Nature and Kant Agrees with Hobbes that –The state of nature is a state of war, and –Human beings have a duty to create political communities to get out of that state

5 The State of Nature and Kant Agrees with Hobbes and Rousseau –That the international system is also in a state of nature and hence of war –But goes further in saying that we have a duty to end war in that state too How can we work towards this state, if we do not believe it is impossible?

6 Perpetual Peace: a Model Peace Treaty Preliminary Articles –Steps that can be taken now to “wind down” a war Definitive Articles –Actions and institutions that definitively end a war Guarantee –The security that the parties give to each other so that they know the other will comply Secret article –An agreement that is not made public but is necessary to make the peace hold

7 Perpetual Peace: Preliminary Articles All the “preliminary articles” are designed, in Kant’s view, to make war less likely and future peace more likely Their specific content is based on Kant’s historical experience

8 Perpetual Peace: Preliminary Articles 1."No Treaty of Peace Shall Be Held Valid in Which There Is Tacitly Reserved Matter for a Future War” 2."No Independent States, Large or Small, Shall Come under the Dominion of Another State by Inheritance, Exchange, Purchase, or Donation” 3."Standing Armies Shall in Time Be Totally Abolished” 4."National Debts Shall Not Be Contracted with a View to the External Friction of States” 5."No State Shall by Force Interfere with the Constitution or Government of Another State” 6."No State Shall, during War, Permit Such Acts of Hostility Which Would Make Mutual Confidence in the Subsequent Peace Impossible”


10 Perpetual Peace: Definitive Articles 1.“The Civil Constitution of Every State Should Be Republican” (principle of civil right) 2.“The Law of Nations Shall be Founded on a Federation of Free States” (principle of international right) 3.“The Law of World Citizenship Shall Be Limited to Conditions of Universal Hospitality” (principle of cosmopolitan right)

11 1. The Civil Constitution of Each State Shall Be Republican What is a republican constitution? Why should we expect that republican constitutions are more likely to lead to peace than other constitutions? Are republican constitutions always possible?

12 A Republican Constitution A constitution where the people are only subject to laws it gives itself But the executive and legislative power are separate Note that in Kant’s time such constitutions hardly existed

13 Why is it peaceful? When a people (through its representatives) has to decide on whether or not to go to war, it will weigh its costs much more carefully than when a despotic ruler decides the question

14 How is it possible? “The problem of organizing a state, however hard it may seem, can be solved even for a race of devils, if only they are intelligent.”

15 Republican constitutions Even if human nature is “depraved” we can create constitutions that have a peaceful tendency

16 A federation of free states What is a federation of free states? Why would it promote peace? How is it possible?

17 What is a federation of free states? It is not a world state or a superstate It is concerned only with regulating international disputes among its members

18 Why not a world state? Peace in a world state would be accomplished at the cost of freedom Nature separates us through language and culture

19 Why is this peaceful? It is a federation of free states, i.e., republican states Such states would be tied together by relations which make war much more costly Consider the EU

20 How is it possible? A powerful free people may serve as the nucleus of a federation, which might then grow Or several regional federations might grow over time

21 Cosmopolitan Right as the Right of Hospitality What is it? Why does it lead to peace? How is it possible?

22 What is the right of hospitality? The right to visit and trade (not necessarily to live)

23 How does this lead to peace? Trade is ultimately incompatible with war It counteracts our natural “separating” tendencies (via language, culture, etc.) and creates mutual understanding Kant argues against “conquest” in the name of trade

24 How is it possible? The “spirit of trade” sooner or later dominates every people

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