Perpetual Peace and Cosmopolitical Method

The Systematic Grounds of Kant’s Cosmopolitan Vision

In: Danish Yearbook of Philosophy
Author: Brian Milstein1
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This article explores the bases of Kant’s cosmopolitanism in his more systematic writings on freedom, judgment, and community. My argument is that, if we peer beneath his more explicitly normative prescriptions for achieving “perpetual peace,” we find the tools not just of a cosmopolitan vision but what we might call a “cosmopolitical method.” While many assume Kant’s political thought descends directly from his moral philosophy, a look back at relevant passages in the first Critique reveals an alternative reading that points toward his theory of reflective judgment, which combines practical freedom with judgments based on theoretical concepts. Of particular importance is Kant’s conception of community as commercium, through which Kant discerns all matters of right to concern the way free actors are constrained to share the earth in common. These considerations allow for a broader way of thinking about Kantian cosmopolitanism, one that is responsive to the reflective judgment of world citizens as they encounter new challenges.


This article explores the bases of Kant’s cosmopolitanism in his more systematic writings on freedom, judgment, and community. My argument is that, if we peer beneath his more explicitly normative prescriptions for achieving “perpetual peace,” we find the tools not just of a cosmopolitan vision but what we might call a “cosmopolitical method.” While many assume Kant’s political thought descends directly from his moral philosophy, a look back at relevant passages in the first Critique reveals an alternative reading that points toward his theory of reflective judgment, which combines practical freedom with judgments based on theoretical concepts. Of particular importance is Kant’s conception of community as commercium, through which Kant discerns all matters of right to concern the way free actors are constrained to share the earth in common. These considerations allow for a broader way of thinking about Kantian cosmopolitanism, one that is responsive to the reflective judgment of world citizens as they encounter new challenges.

* I am very grateful to Asger Sørensen, Miriam Dajczgewand Świętek, an anonymous reviewer, and the participants in the seminar “Toward Perpetual Peace – Politics, Culture and Education,” held November 20, 2015, at Aarhus University – Copenhagen, for their comments and encouragement on earlier versions of this article.

Two hundred and twenty years since its first appearance in 1795, Kant’s essay Toward Perpetual Peace remains a touchstone for contemporary debates about international and cosmopolitan justice. Unlike many previous cosmopolitan thinkers, Kant approaches world politics from a genuinely “cosmopolitan point of view.” By this I mean he does not just advocate a theory of cosmopolitan, international, or global justice, because he does more than that: Kant understands the problem of how potentially free and rational thinking and acting agents can peacefully and lawfully share the earth in common to be at the root of politics altogether. Kant saw that political relations within states are inextricably bound up with political relations between states; he saw that the problems of violence and war in the international sphere were inseparable from tyranny and oppression in the domestic sphere; long before words like “globalization” and “interdependence” entered our everyday political vocabulary, Kant saw the idea of an internally self-sufficient, bounded society as a misleading fiction; he understood, in short, that all politics are global in the last instance.

But if Kant’s astuteness on certain aspects of world politics is notable, so too is his marked lack of it on other aspects. Kant’s recommendation for a “voluntary” league of free states as a basis for international law, while prescient in foreseeing the rise of international organizations in the twentieth century, appears for many too weak to meet the enforcement needs of contemporary global governance, providing few means to address the realities of power politics and superpower dominance. His strict adherence to the doctrine of non-intervention and rejection of any right to resist oppression leaves little recourse against the brutalities of modern dictatorship, ideological fanaticism, and civil war. His idea of a “limited” cosmopolitan right that includes a right to “visit” but not to “settle” seems, despite its anti-imperialist edge, woefully inadequate for the challenges of modern statelessness and refugee crises. And his Enlightenment-era gleefulness about the civilizing powers of transnational commerce seems particularly quaint in the face of the realities of global capitalism, inequality, and exploitation.

To contemporary readers, these shortcomings seem at best to indicate a naïveté about what could actually be achieved by republican constitutionalism, a voluntary league of free states, and a limited right to hospitality. Less generous readers even see in Kant a Eurocentric, free-market capitalist, even elitist vision of world politics. Even many of his present-day sympathizers believe Kant’s ideas need some readjustment to stand up to contemporary global realities and the sensitivities it requires. John Rawls relaxes the requirement that every state be fully “liberal” in the Western sense to satisfy human rights, while also allowing for certain forms of coercive intervention when human rights are severely violated.1 Jürgen Habermas, while agreeing with Kant’s skepticism toward a world state, nonetheless thinks a peaceable world order requires democratically legitimate global institutions of some kind.2 Seyla Benhabib admires Kant’s idea of a cosmopolitan right, but believes it should be in some ways strengthened and in other ways clarified to allow for political developments that had not yet occurred in Kant’s time, such as political refugees, mass immigration, and increased multiculturalism within and across national boundaries.3

But even if Kant’s contemporary supporters agree that his ideas cannot be simply transplanted out of the eighteenth century into the political climate of today, Kant’s critics are still skeptical that his thought has a place in the twenty-first century at all. For critics such as Andreas Behnke4 and James Ingram,5 Kant’s understanding of world politics is inseparably bound to a form of Eurocentric bourgeois universalism that aims to flatten all sources of conflict and difference under a regime of abstract moralism, and for this reason it can never be much other than oppressive in today’s world of radical diversity and political complexity. From this point of view, Kant, the philosophical standard-bearer of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, is the embodiment of an arrogant rationalism that despises otherness, condemns difference, and denies the inherently adversarial nature of politics.

A large part of this dispute hinges on where Kant’s vision of politics falls within his philosophical system. Critics like Behnke and Ingram view Kant’s writings on politics as direct applications of his moral philosophy: Kant’s cosmopolitanism is an extension of his moral universalism. This was indeed once a fairly standard interpretation of Kant’s political thought, leading no less a student of Kant than Rawls to describe Kantian politics as a “comprehensive liberalism.”6 A reading in these terms may indeed narrow of scope of application of Kant’s philosophy, as well as its relevance, for it would seem to make Kant’s specific ideas and prescriptions regarding political organization, international order, and cosmopolitan law not a matter of political judgment but moral imperative. On this reading, Kant’s aim is to posit an abstract moral universalism as a substitute for real-time political engagement with questions of power and difference. If his abstract morality is hopelessly bound to its eighteenth-century European perspective, so must his politics be.

Whether his moral philosophy is indeed so bound is not the question I want to address here, but I do want to focus on the extent to which Kant’s politics are bound to his moral philosophy—that is, whether his political theory is merely an extension and application of his moral universalism. This is heavily disputed, even by those who defend his moral theory: Onora O’Neill and Miguel Vatter argued forcefully that Kant’s politics is indeed “political” in a concrete sense as well as “moral” in an abstract sense,7 while Sankar Muthu asserts that, not only does Kant’s approach not disregard difference, the fact of difference lies at the very heart of his cosmopolitan vision.8 Albena Azmanova and Asger Sørensen have gone further to argue that, far from being apolitical, Kant’s approach can serve as a powerful foil against certain proponents of “ideal theory” who reduce politics to morality in the very way Kant is so often accused.9 Indeed, many now view the principles Kant lays out in Perpetual Peace, the Rechtslehre, and other writings to stand more or less independently of the formulations of the Groundwork and the Critique of Practical Reason. 10 Also at issue is what sort of judgment is required to comprehend the relation between “the universal” and “the particular” in Kant’s political thought. In the Critique of Judgment, Kant writes that we use determinate judgment when we take a “universal law” as given and “merely subsume” the particular under it, while we engage in reflective judgment when “only the particular is given, for which the universal is to be found” [cj 5:179]. A “moralistic” reading of Kant’s politics would suggest the employment of determinate judgment, but again, recent writers such as O’Neill, Vatter, and Azmanova claim that what is really at work is a form of reflective judgment.

In what follows, I will side with these later readings that stress the distinction between Kant’s moral and political thought and emphasize the centrality of reflective judgment. But I also aim to take them further. I claim that not only do they capture the better and more textually consistent way of understanding Kant’s political thought, they also furnish us with the tools necessary to develop the Kantian framework in new directions. Kant’s cosmopolitan vision is not (or not necessarily) at odds with contemporary needs, though it is in important ways underdeveloped. I argue that, if we peer beneath his particular prescriptions for republican constitutionalism, a voluntary league of free states, and a universal right of hospitality, we find the tools not just of a cosmopolitan vision but what we might call a cosmopolitical method. What Kant offers is not merely a normative blueprint, but a radical way of thinking about politics from the perspective of free, thinking, speaking, and acting persons faced with the challenge of sharing the earth in common. As such, Kant’s cosmopolitan vision must be taken as an open-ended project of citizens of the world using their own judgment to diagnose the challenges of sharing the earth in common with one another.

The argument I develop draws together several of Kant’s works in order to identify common threads throughout. My premise it that, to the extent that Kant offers not just a normative cosmopolitan theory but a cosmopolitical method, it must be found by examining not just his political and legal theory in their own right but as part of a systematic philosophical corpus that includes the Critiques as well as a variety of his other writings. I will begin by looking back at Kant’s discussion of freedom and causality in the Critique of Pure Reason, showing how Kant introduces his concept of practical freedom in a way that leads to two possible readings (i). This opens the way for an ambiguity in the reading of Kant’s political thought—in particular his theory of right (Recht)—as to whether it is best understood in terms of the Categorical Imperative or another principle of freedom (ii). I side with those who understand Kant’s theory of right as standing independently of the Categorical Imperative, but argue that understanding the specific manner in which Kant sets up the problem of right requires analysis of certain theoretical concepts—notably, his concept of community as “interaction” (Wechselwirkung) or as commercium (iii). This particular way of conceptualizing community as commercium is crucial for understanding how, for Kant, all matters of politics and right are originally cosmopolitan in scope, concerning not states or even relations between states but relations among free actors constrained to share the earth in common (iv). This becomes evident in Kant’s philosophy of history, in which he employs teleological judgment to reflect upon how the problem of interstate war ties back to this original cosmopolitan problem of sharing the earth (v). I will conclude by briefly suggesting how Kant’s cosmopolitan methodology can be expanded to encompass new global problems, such as runaway global capitalism and ecological degradation (vi).


In the first Critique, Kant develops the idea of freedom in direct relation to phenomenal experience. Here freedom is presented as a “regulative idea” that can be derived from the observation of causality in nature and the necessity of positing causal laws. Kant’s famed answer to Hume’s denial of causality was that, while causality is indeed a concept we human beings bring to the world, the “schema” of cause and effect is a transcendentally necessary condition of our ability to make sense of our cognitions and order them within a unified horizon of temporality. However, for Kant, this leaves open the question of determinism—that is, of whether all actions, including human actions, must be reduced to chains of empirical cause and effect. It is at this point that he explores the regulative idea of practical freedom that is independent of but nevertheless consistent with a world governed by empirical causality.

“The human being,” he explains, “is one of the appearances in the world of sense…whose causality must stand under empirical laws. As such he must accordingly also have an empirical character, just like all other natural things. … Yet the human being, who is otherwise acquainted with the whole of nature solely through sense, knows himself also through pure apperception, and indeed in actions and inner determinations which cannot be accounted at all among impressions of sense; he obviously is one part phenomenon, but in another part, namely in regard to certain faculties [of understanding and reason], he is a merely intelligible object, because the actions of this object cannot at all be ascribed to the receptivity of sensibility” [cpr A546–7/B574–5]. Two things are notable in Kant’s musing in this section.

  1. First, Kant’s deduction that the human being has a dual status as both a sensible object of experience and a merely intelligible object of reason presupposes a combination of third-person observation and first-person introspection. She must begin with the observation of a human being in action according to the rules of empirical causality, and then bring the experience of her observation reflexively under her own inner experience of reasoning. Kant is not entirely clear on whether this hypothetical consciousness is observing another or merely herself in action, though both possibilities lead to the same conclusion. In the first case, she must observe herself observing the other, and then transpose the experience of observing the other to the other’s own inner experience. In the latter case, she must observe herself observing herself. Both procedures end in not only an understanding but a reflexive understanding of her capacity for freedom within the world of phenomenal experience.
  2. Second, Kant’s derivation of the possibility of practical freedom from empirical causality must already presuppose the phenomenal world. The procedure of transposition between self and other assumes that both coexist in a determinate relation to each other in space and time. As Kant states, even if we can plausibly attribute to human reason a causality, this causality “must nevertheless exhibit an empirical character” that follows the rules of the phenomenal realm of cause and effect [cpr A549/B577]. The judgment of reason that attributes rational freedom, in other words, can only comprehend freedom in the context of the phenomenal order of cause and effect and from within the temporal horizon of lived experience: the noumenal or intelligible character of someone’s actions must be ascertained in the mirror of the latter’s empirical character.

In this light, Kant continues, “if we consider the very same actions [drawn from appearances as effect] in relation to reason…insofar as reason is the cause of producing them by themselves—in a word, if we compare them with reason in a practical respect—then we find a rule and order that is entirely other than the natural order. For perhaps everything that has happened in the course of nature, and on empirical grounds inevitably had to happen, nevertheless ought not to have happened” [cpr A550/B578]. The demonstration of a practical reason whose causality exerts itself independently of theoretical reason points here to a reason whose practical freedom exhibits itself in relation to events in the phenomenal realm as rational criticism. The operative function here is not in the first instance the “ought” of the moral law; rather, it is the “ought not” of a critique of action in real time. This “ought not” is quite consistent with Kant’s claim later in the first Critique that reason’s claim “has no dictatorial authority” but rests on the “agreement of free citizens, each of whom must be able to express his reservations, indeed even his veto, without holding back” [cpr A738–9/B766–7]. In both passages, Kant suggests a practical—and even nascently political—orientation to freedom in the world of experience that begins with a practical intuition of injustice rather than a priori knowledge of ideal justice. Moreover, it points to a process of observation and critique that has its basis not in pure introspective reason but in pragmatic exchanges between persons. At the very least, the process of gaining insight that an action has happened that nevertheless ought not to have happened must presuppose that the actor and the criticizing observer coexist in a space of possible interaction with one another.

But Kant has a more ambitious aim. Just before entertaining the power of reason to deem that what “has happened…nevertheless ought not to have happened,” he muses of a power of reason that “does not give in to those grounds that are empirically given…but with complete spontaneity it makes its own order according to ideas, to which it fits the empirical conditions and according to which it even declares actions to be necessary that yet have not occurred and perhaps will not occur, nevertheless presupposing of all such actions that reason could have causality in relation to them; for without that, it would not expect its ideas to have effects in experience” [cpr A548/B576]. At first glance, this may not look too different from the above: the prescriptive phrasing of “what ought to happen, even though perhaps it never does happen” [cpr A802/B830] seems to be a mere flip-side of the critical phrasing that something had indeed happened that nevertheless ought not to have happened. But the two notions are crucially asymmetric, for while the critical phrasing presupposes something in the phenomenal world (that “on empirical grounds inevitably had to happen”) as the basis for judgment, only the prescriptive phrasing allows the further step of positing the idea of “pure practical laws…whose end is given by reason completely a priori, and which do not command under empirical conditions but absolutely, [and thus] would be products of pure reason” [cpr A800/B828]. This idea, of course, anticipates the formulations of moral law in the Groundwork and the Critique of Practical Reason for which Kant is most renowned, which is also paralleled in the Doctrine of Right as a system of laws of external freedom that can be known a priori, prior to all experience. The critical phrasing, meanwhile, displays a greater affinity with the reflective uses of freedom most closely associated with “What Is Enlightenment?” and the Critique of the Power of Judgment. It provides the ground for “political” critique, one that is no less oriented to the ideal of maximal freedom as the recursive condition of normativity but which embeds the noumenal moment of practical freedom within the train of phenomenal experience. These two ways of formulating the practical powers of reason first part ways here. The first question for us is: Which one is in play in Kant’s political theory and cosmopolitanism?


It is not necessary for us to give a full account of Kant’s practical philosophy and the various controversies it has endured. For purposes of the present argument, it is only necessary that we note how in Kant’s political philosophy there is an ambiguity between two operative forms of political judgment, which he defines in the third Critique as “determinate” judgment and as “reflective” judgment. The former operation is one that takes the “universal law” as given and “merely subsumes” the particular under it; the latter, however, is for when “only the particular is given, for which the universal is to be found” [cj 5:179].

Kant’s Rechtsprinzip—the “Universal Principle of Right”—is the central tenet of his political philosophy: “Any action is right [recht] if it can coexist with everyone’s freedom in accordance with a universal law, or if on its maxim the freedom of choice of each can coexist with everyone’s freedom in accordance with a universal law [allgemeinen Gesetze]” [mm 6:230]. The principle does appear to resemble a formula for determinate judgment, not least of all due to its grammatical resemblance to the first formula of the Categorical Imperative. One could reasonably assume that the Rechtsprinzip is simply a variation on the Categorical Imperative narrowed to the scope of law and politics. But closer reading reveals the relation between the two to be more complex. For one thing, Kant stresses a crucial difference between the object domains of right and morality. Duties of morality (or “ethical duties”) are duties of inner freedom: they are duties to which we are bound by pure practical reason, and our obligation to follow them stems from our autonomous will alone. Duties of right, in contrast, apply to the realm of external freedom: our obligations to adhere to them concern only our external behavior, irrespective of our motivations [mm 6:218–21]. If duties of right do not depend on their being autonomously willed according to reason alone, it is hard to see how they can be derived from the Categorical Imperative. Another issue is that Kant describes the Rechtsprinzip as an analytic principle [mm 6:396], which seems at odds with the notion that it is derived from some other principle. Allen Wood, for example, notes that the supreme principle of morality is synthetic—requiring that the idea of freedom be combined with that of ends—and it would not make sense to claim to derive an analytic principle from a synthetic one.11 Moreover, Kant explicitly writes that the Rechtsprinzip “does not at all expect, much less demand, that I myself should limit my freedom to those conditions [that accord with right]…; instead, reason says only that freedom is limited to those conditions…” [mm 6:231]. In other words, the Rechtsprinzip is not a prescriptive principle, at least not in the same sense as the moral law.12

At the same time, it does not make much sense to describe the Rechtsprinzip as being entirely independent of morality. Without an internal link to the idea that human beings are capable of deriving laws of action from their own reason, the very notion of laws that regulate external freedom becomes incoherent. External freedom would cease to be “freedom” in any meaningful Kantian sense, and human action would be reduced to the mere Hobbesian logic of “voluntary motions” grounded in appetites and aversions. To be sure, there is evidence for such a reading. It is just after Kant rejects the moralistic reading of the Rechtsprinzip that he links right to the “authorization to use coercion.” The Rechtsprinzip seems to be operationalized here not on the basis of an appeal to moral reason but merely as a kind of “Pareto-optimal” situation of persons enjoying equal external freedom via their capacities to reciprocally guard their freedom though mutual coercion [mm 6:231–4].13 But such Pareto-optimality must still rest on universal (or at least general: allgemein) laws. And if they are laws regulating freedom—as opposed to laws of nature—then they must still rely on the self-legislating powers of human reason [see mm 6:239].

What binds right and morality together? Wood suggests that Kant’s formula of “humanity as an end in itself” might provide a more fruitful way of thinking about the internal relation between right and morality.14 It is this—the second formula of the Categorical Imperative—that appears most heavily echoed in Kant’s description of freedom as “the only innate right belonging to every man by virtue of his humanity,” which extends to the “innate equality” of persons and “a human being’s quality of being his own master (sui iuris), as well as being a human being beyond reproach (iusti)” [mm 6:237–8]. Even if this were so, precisely how the formula of humanity is applied in the realm of external freedom is far from obvious, for it must still be reconciled with Kant’s descriptive as opposed to morally prescriptive characterization of the Rechtsprinzip.

Thomas Pogge suggests we are looking at the question the wrong way. Instead of asking in what sense right is dependent on the moral law, we should recognize that Kant means instead for the moral law to be dependent on right.15 Pogge points to the famous passage in Perpetual Peace where Kant claims the task of establishing a law-governed state “is soluble even for a nation of devils,” so long as they have sufficient understanding to rationally pursue their own self-preservation. What is at issue here, writes Kant, “is not the moral improvement of human beings but only the mechanism of nature” [pp 8:366]. Elsewhere Kant goes further. In “Idea for a Universal History,” he describes a dynamic “unsocial sociability” that propels human beings from a condition of mutual antagonism to one of prudential cooperation to finally one based on moral consciousness [iuh 8:20–21]. We find similar stories in his “Conjectural Beginning of Human History” [cbh 8:118–23], the third Critique [cj 5:431–4], and in the Anthropology [Anth 7:324–5]. In all of these, Kant’s narrative is of a world of human beings who “cannot disperse infinitely but must finally put up with being near one another” [pp 8:358; cf. mm 6:237, 262, 307] entering into a juridical condition, which then spurs a gradual process of enlightenment that eventually “transforms a pathologically compelled agreement to form a society finally into a moral whole” [iuh 8:21].

Read with this in mind, what the Rechtsprinzip does is “map out” the kinds of relations that must be in place between externally free, practical-rational actors to pursue their ultimate (including moral) ends, which can also be endorsed on the basis of prudential self-interest. But it does not do so through the application of determinate moral principles. Instead, it abstracts from the situation of externally free actors sharing a common space, who are capable of physically affecting one another and of legislating for themselves general laws (allgemeine Gesetze) to regulate the ways in which they do so: “Right [Recht] is therefore the sum of the conditions under which the choice [Willkür] of one can be united with the choice [Willkür] of another in accordance with a universal law [allemeinen Gesetze] of freedom” [mm 6:230]. In a sense, Kant is taking the Rousseauean proviso of “taking men as they are and laws as they might be” literally, with the added stipulation that laws as they might be can only arise via the legislation of the actors themselves.16 The general laws (allgemeine Gesetze) are not derived from the moral law, nor are they handed down by a mythical legislator,17 but arise from within the dynamic of “a fully equal and reciprocal coercion” among thinking, speaking, and acting agents [mm 6:233].

We should clarify that what Kant is dealing with at this level is not Recht understood as positive law, but as a form of relationality out of which the practical problem emerges that law is intended to address.18 Recht in the first instance refers not to laws or rights in the conventional sense but to the basic relation of “double contingency” between several agents able to act purposively according to their own reason and judgment. It has to do “only with the external and indeed practical relation of one person to another, insofar as their actions, as facts [als Facta], can have (direct or indirect) influence on each other” [mm 6:230, translation amended]. Even though it represents the phenomenal embodiment of actors with noumenal powers of reason, the situation out of which right emerges as a problem is not an entity of the noumenal but of the phenomenal realm. This is one clue that some part of the logic of practical judgment with regard to Recht may follow that of reflective, not determinate judgment: as with the passage from the first Critique discussed above, the procedure through which Kant arrives at the problem of right proceeds from the world of experience to the intelligible realm. This is what reflective judgment does: it mediates between the phenomenal and noumenal, nature and freedom, theoretical understanding and practical reason [cj 5:195–8].19

It stands to reason that Kant would premise the logic of Recht on a reflective form of practical judgment. Were principles of Recht approachable only through direct appeal to the moral law, the civil condition would not be achievable by “merely prudent” individuals (let alone a “nation of devils”) who do not (yet) will themselves to act from duty alone. Again, we should be sure to distinguish between the general problem of Recht and the institutionalization of positive law. On Miguel Vatter’s reading of Kant, the transition from a state of nature to an order of public Recht under positive law does entail a kind of submission to the “determinate judgment” of the sovereign. However, Vatter stresses that, despite the fact that this arrangement denies citizens any right to coercively resist the sovereign, the determinate judgment of the sovereign nevertheless remains in an important way conditioned by the reflective judgment of the citizenry: “For Kant, no sovereign is authorized to decide whether a people have attained their perfect constitution, and for this reason the reflective employment of judgment can never be left in the hands of the sovereign, but characterizes the people’s non-coercive yet constituent power of critique over and against the sovereign.”20

These various aspects of Kant’s theory of right and politics require additional unpacking and specification. Before we can see how they come together in Kant’s cosmopolitan thought, we need to look more closely at how Kant sets up the problem of Recht in such a way as to make it intrinsically global. We also need to explore the political role of reflective judgment in mediating problems of Recht, and, moreover, how it can be employed to situate and clarify the tasks of political judgment in accordance with the problem of global Recht.


Kant presents the concept of strikte Recht (“strict right”) not as a concept of pure practical reason but of theoretical reason. This is already indicated by Kant’s statement that strikte Recht can be “represented [vorgestellt] as the possibility of a fully reciprocal [wechselseitigen] use of coercion that is consistent with everyone’s freedom in accordance with universal laws [allgemeinen Gesetzen]” [mm 6:232]. Kant’s use of vocabulary such as vorgestellt, along with his description shortly after of this being a “presentation of it in pure intuition a priori,” are already more reminiscent of the first Critique than the second. Even more suggestive is his statement that the dynamic of reciprocal coercion [wechselseitigen Zwanges] stands “by analogy with presenting the possibility of bodies moving freely under the law of equality of action and reaction [Wirkung und Gegenwirkung]” [mm 6:232]. The analogy to Newton’s Third Mechanical Law is also a reference to Kant’s own “categories of relation”—in particular, the category of community. In the first Critique, Kant identifies community with reciprocity (Wechselwirkung) or reciprocal causality (wechselseitigen Kausalität), which he describes as “the simultaneity of the determinations of one with those of the other in accordance with a universal rule [allgemeinen Regel]” [cpr A144/B183–4, translation amended]. In what he calls the “Analogies of Experience,” Kant uses the three categories of relation—substance, causality, and community—to elucidate three relations of time-determination—permanence, succession, and simultaneity. In his Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science, Kant uses these three schema of time-determination to ground the metaphysical basis for Newton’s three mechanical laws, respectively: the conservation of matter, the law of cause and effect, and the equality of action and reaction. My argument is that this category of community, which Kant introduces in the first Critique, plays a central role in how he conceptualizes and constructs the problem of Recht.

Kant writes, “The word ‘community’ [Gemeinschaft] is ambiguous in our language, and can mean either communio or commercium. We use it here in the latter sense, as a dynamical community, without which even the local community (communio spatii) could ever be empirically cognized” [cpr A213/B260]. Kant’s thesis is that simultaneity is not just a concept of time but of space. In the 1787 edition of the first Critique, he claims “the simultaneity of substances in space cannot be cognized in experience otherwise than under the presupposition of an interaction [Wechselwirkung] among them” [cpr B258]. Despite Kant’s later references to Newton’s mechanical laws (also despite the Newtonian conception of space propounded in the “Transcendental Aesthetic”), here Kant is propounding a Leibnizian understanding of space. In his Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science, he asserts that the law of action and reaction demands a relational concept of space that can be specified only relative to the objects in motion—space must be inferred from the “community” of motions taken as an interactive whole [mfns 4:548].21 The image of political space implied by strikte Recht is in conformity with this conception. As Katrin Flikschuh notes, “Thoroughgoing reciprocal coercion invokes a spatial image according to which the free action space of each is delimited and constrained by the equal action space of everyone else.”22 And as Arthur Ripstein explains, “The principle of right governs outer freedom, so a priori intuitions for it must conform to the form of outer intuition—space.”23

As a “schema” for apprehending experiences in space and time, the first Critique’s concept of commercium—as the proper conceptualization of the relational category of “community”—requires us to cognize appearances as coexisting within a unified spatiotemporal horizon by positing them in a relation of “thoroughgoing interaction” with one another; it is only under this general schema of interaction that we can ascertain and make judgments about more determinate relations between things—to differentiate one from another, to group together, to distinguish parts and wholes, and so forth. More crucially, the category of community qua commercium is reflexive: it does not merely require us to perceive interaction among the things we observe; it also requires us to posit ourselves within that interaction and the way we coexist with the objects of our own experience.24 Commercium affords each of us what Béatrice Longuenesse calls a “standpoint on the whole,” requiring us to locate ourselves in the world and situate ourselves in thoroughgoing interaction with our surroundings. But this function is not confined to the standpoint of a single observing subject to her objective environment; it also incorporates the “community of our respective standpoints…on material substances, and on the world as a whole.”25

Compare this to the Rechtslehre: in describing his conception of “cosmopolitan right,” Kant writes, “all peoples stand originally on a community of land, though not a rightful community of possession (communio) and so use of it, or of property in it; instead they stand in a community of possible physical interaction (commercium), that is, in a thoroughgoing relation of each to all the others of offering to engage in dealings with any other” [mm 6:352]. Kant’s claim here seems to parallel that of the first Critique, contrasting two ways of imagining actors as coexisting on earth in community with one another. As communio, actors coexist in determinate communities of rightful possession, such as when they organize into states governed by positive law. As commercium, in contrast, actors sharing the earth in common exist as a different kind of community—a community defined by interaction (Wechselwirkung)—which is defined solely by the reciprocal external freedom with which each actor stands in relation to every other. Kant’s suggestion here is again that community defined as commercium has conceptual priority over community defined as communio: we share the earth in common first as externally free agents in a relation of thoroughgoing interaction with one another and only then as possible participants in more determinate and lawful relations of community.26

This points to a key component of Kant’s understanding of right—namely, that the practical problem of rightful relations among actors is inherently global. He makes this clear in his description of an “original possession in common” of all human beings on the earth’s surface, which inheres “because the spherical surface of the earth unites all the places on its surface.” He continues: “for if its surface were an unbounded plane, people could be so dispersed on it that they would not come into any community with one another, and community would not then be a necessary result of their existence on earth” [mm 6:262]. Whereas the passage on “cosmopolitan right” refers only to possible global interaction, this passage makes the necessity of interaction at a global scale a basis for community as such.


A crucial implication of the above is, contrary to the conventional image of societies forming into discrete wholes and then entering into relations with each other, Kant thus rejects the idea that international relations are epiphenomenal to domestic ones. Rather, both domestic and international relations are co-original products of an original cosmopolitical level of relations among human beings compelled to share the earth in common. Each member, as an embodied being of action, shares the earth in common with every other person in a commercium of reciprocal influence (Wechselwirkung). But this original relation of commercium itself admits of a certain duality. We could say actors sharing the earth exist in “objective” commercium with one another—a commercium given by the “fact” of their coexistence on a spherical (and therefore limited) surface whereby they cannot avoid interacting with one another. At the same time, each member, as a free being of reason, is capable of using her own powers of rationality and judgment to comprehend her situation in relation to everyone else. In this respect, everyone exists in “reflexive” commercium—a commercium given by everyone’s ability to take a standpoint on the whole, make sense of the multitude of relations that connect her to everyone else, and think of the general laws (allgemeine Gesetze) that might govern such relations. Only by putting these two dimensions of commercium together—objective and reflexive—does the relation of strikte Recht become possible: it is only by virtue of the objective dimension of commercium do the actors find themselves in the situation of mutually affecting one another, but it is only by virtue of the reflexive dimension that this relation of mutual influence becomes a question of reciprocal freedom.27 And only once this situation of commercium can be interpreted as a question of reciprocal freedom can this relation of mutually affecting one another be understood in terms of mutual coercion, which is constitutive of right.

That commercium can be understood as possessing both an objective and a reflexive dimension testifies to its status of having a simultaneously phenomenal (empirical) and noumenal (intelligible) character. This points us back to the interpretation of freedom given in the first Critique. As we saw above, Kant grounds freedom in the way human beings stand as both phenomenal and noumenal beings and arrives at the practical idea of freedom by means of the process through which the thinking actor reconciles her empirical character with her intelligible one. But in the context of commercium there can be no ambiguity as to whether the observing and reflecting consciousness is merely reflecting on her own capacity for freedom or also someone else’s. She must do both. Moreover, she must do both in a context of reciprocal interaction in which she is both initiator and recipient of actions affecting others.

This is the dynamic of unsocial sociability Kant described in his “Idea for a Universal History”:

The human being has an inclination to become socialized, since in such a condition he feels himself as more a human being…. But he also has a great propensity to individualize (isolate) himself, because he simultaneously encounters in himself the unsociable property of willing to direct everything according to his own sense (nach seinem Sinne), and hence expects resistance everywhere because he knows of himself that he is inclined on his side to toward resistance against others. Now it is this resistance that awakens all the powers of the human being, brings him to overcome his propensity to indolence, and, driven by ambition, tyranny, and greed, to obtain himself a rank among his fellows, whom he cannot stand, but also cannot leave alone. Thus happen the first true steps from crudity toward culture, which really consists in the social worth of the human being; thus all talents come bit by bit to be developed, taste is formed, and even, through progress in enlightenment, a beginning is made toward the foundation of a mode of thought which can with time transform the crude natural predisposition to make moral distinctions into determinate practical principles.

iuh 8:20–21, translation amended
Here, the dynamic of mutual resistance drives actors’ increasing reflexive awareness of the matrix of action and reaction in which they are situated.28 Acting in the arena of the phenomenal world, each must come to terms with their own and each other’s status as not only causal but freely causal agents, with their own individualized respective standpoints that they bring to bear on one another.29 Each participant comes to recognize her own capacity for external freedom and accordingly seeks to maximize it, only to run into resistance from similarly freedom-maximizing actors with whom she must share social space. Gradually, “through progress in enlightenment,” she and others come to recognize the same normative powers and interests in others that they find in themselves, and this becomes the first step in the movement toward civil organization under “determinate practical principles.”
These principles are not derived from “on high” as ideal moral principles; rather, the actors must develop them reflectively, through determinations that what “has happened…nevertheless ought not to have happened” [cpr A550/B578]. Actors in commercium arrive at possible laws of right not by direct appeal to universal reason (determinate judgments) but by reflecting rationally on particular instances of a right being violated: “Reason itself does not operate instinctively, but rather needs attempts, practice, and instruction in order to gradually progress from one stage of insight to the next” [iuh 8:19]. This process is already contained in the concept of strikte Recht that analytically connects right with coercion. As Kant explains in the Rechtslehre:

Resistance that counteracts the hindering of an effect promotes this effect and is consistent with it. Now whatever is wrong is a hindrance to freedom in accordance with universal laws. But coercion is a hindrance or resistance to freedom. Therefore, if a certain use of freedom is itself a hindrance to freedom in accordance with universal laws (i.e., wrong), coercion that is opposed to this (as a hindering of a hindrance to freedom) is consistent with freedom in accordance with universal laws, that is, it is right.

mm 6:231
If we connect Kant’s use of “resistance” here to his description of unsocial sociability above, we see that the development of principles of right arises reflectively as actors affecting one another strive to reciprocally hinder hindrances to their own freedom. Since reflective judgment proceeds from the particular to the universal, right serves freedom first as a negation of injustice; only then are actors in commercium able to generalize from their insights and legislate “determinate practical principles.”

This progression can also be read in the maxims of sensus communis: (1) “To think for oneself,” (2) “To think oneself (in communication with human beings) into the place of every other person,” and (3) “Always to think consistently with oneself” [Anth 7:228]. Kant introduces these principles of reflective judgment in the third Critique, but he elaborates upon them in his Anthropology, where he writes: “By means of the great difference of minds, in the way they look at exactly the same objects and at each other, and by means of the friction between them and the connection between them as well as their separation, nature provides a remarkable drama of infinite variety on the stage of observers and thinkers” [Anth 7:228, my emphasis]. The first principle is the principle of “enlightenment,” which Kant identifies with “being legislative for oneself,” for adopting “the maxim of a reason that is never passive” [cj 5:294]. This echoes Kant’s description in the Rechtslehre of freedom as being the sole “innate right,” which includes “independence from being bound by others” and “hence a human being’s quality of being his own master (sui iuris)” [mm 6:237–8]. In both the third Critique and the Anthropology, he specifies that this is a negative principle, a principle of “liberation from prejudice” [cj 5:294], “freedom from constraint” [Anth 7:228], and “exit from his self-incurred immaturity” [Anth 7:229; see also E 8:35]. Only with the second and third principles does the process acquire positive features.

Miguel Vatter sees a parallel between these three principles of judgment and Kant’s discussion of the general duties of right, which, based on the precepts of Ulpian, include “asserting one’s worth as a human being in relation to others,” “do not wrong anyone,” and “enter into a society…in which each can keep what is his” [mm 6:236–7]. While the first duty involves the capacity to be sui iuris—that is, an “honorable human being,” with a “right of humanity in our own person,” who is capable of self-legislation—the duty of not wronging others requires one to strive beyond one’s own subjective standpoint and adopt the standpoint of everyone else. The third duty, which anticipates the imperative to enter into a rightful condition, accords with the maxim to think consistently. As Kant writes in the third Critique, “that of the consistent way of thinking is the most difficult to achieve, and can only be achieved through the combination of the first two” [cj 5:295].30 The duty to enter into a society governed by a system of positive laws serves as a mirror to an internally consistent way of associating with others that can be adopted in community with others. As we saw above, in Vatter’s analysis, adopting a system of positive law amounts to a kind of acceptance of the determinate judgment of the sovereign state, but the validity of the determinate judgments of the sovereign still remain in the last instance answerable to the reflective judgments of free citizens—not merely as members of an isolated sovereign state, but globally, as would-be if not formal citizens of the world.


These various elements of Kant’s political theory stand more or less independently of Kant’s moral philosophy. Taken together, they suggest not a system of universal principles to be derived from “pure practical reason” and then applied to the real world, but a much more dynamic commercium of thoroughgoing interaction whereby actors sharing the earth in common engage in, resist, reflectively judge, and develop insights on the various ways they mutually affect one another. To see how all this links up with Kant’s cosmopolitan vision, including his theory of Perpetual Peace, we need to incorporate one more element—what Kant calls teleological judgment. Critics point to Kant’s teleology as proof positive of his universalizing and rationalistic arrogance, as if he were claiming that all of history is moving inexorably, on the basis of some grand plan of nature, toward his own conception of moral perfection.31 But this reading does not take full account of the fact that Kant squarely locates teleology as a function of reflective, not determinate judgment, and we have no capacity for ascertaining with certainty any overall plan of nature: “It would be absurd to hope that there may yet arise a Newton who could make comprehensible even the generation of a blade of grass according to natural laws that no intention has ordered” [cj 5:400].

Teleological judgment, as a form of reflective judgment, merely serves the attribution of purposiveness to things in the phenomenal world. In Kant’s system, reason, even when employed subjectively, demands a certain unity in the world—that is, it depends on the assumption that things in both the empirical and intelligible realms coexist in some kind of law-governed order, even if this order is not known. Kant is not saying that there is such a law-governed order—the world may very well be contingent and chaotic all the way down. Rather, his claim is that the human standpoint cannot avoid thinking as if there were such an order, and thus it cannot avoid assigning purposiveness to artifacts in the empirical world as a way of interpreting them in accordance with our ultimate ends—which are driven by our capacities for reason and self-legislation.32 This is the function of the power of judgment, which “provides the mediating concept between the concepts of nature and the concept of freedom” [cj 5:196]. It allows us to answer the questions, “What does it matter?” [Anth 7:227] and “What may I hope?” [cpr A805/B833].

In Kant’s writings on history, teleological judgment serves to further specify the tasks of reflective judgment on matters of right, in terms of both their desirability and their possibility. In the “First Supplement” of Toward Perpetual Peace, Kant writes that the idea of teleology, fate, or providence is something “we do not, strictly speaking, cognize in these artifices of nature or even so much as infer from them but instead…only can and must add it in thought, in order to make for ourselves a concept of their possibility by analogy with actions of human art” [pp 8:362]. Reflection on history, for Kant, serves to make practical sense of how the dynamics of actors sharing the earth in common have played out up to the present moment, the challenges they pose, and our possibility for meeting them.

Thus, in Perpetual Peace, Kant retells the story of unsocial sociability on a global scale by describing how nature “has taken care that people should be able to live in all regions of the earth…by war it has driven them everywhere, even into the most inhospitable regions…by war it has compelled them to enter into more or less lawful relations” [pp 8:363]. It is notable that, in telling this story, Kant is not taking the idea of people existing in separate bounded nation-states as given. The drama takes place not within hypothetical closed societies, nor does it take place at an “international” level, between already established societies; instead it takes place at the cosmopolitical level—the level of people sharing the earth in common—through which individual states and the international system arise together. In Kant’s diagnosis, this creates a paradoxical situation with which humanity must come to terms. On the one hand, this unplanned “plan of nature,” through the instrument of war, has compelled peoples to form into civil societies under laws, if for no other reason than out of the sheer necessity of self-preservation. As Kant says in “Idea for a Universal History” and elsewhere, even though this is a “pathological” means of achieving social union, it nevertheless has the side-effect of clearing a space for more developed modes of sociability, culture, and politics [see iuh 8:21; cbh 8:119; cj 5:432–3; pp 8:366–7].

But this way of overcoming the antagonism between people sharing the earth in common comes at the cost of a world divided into sovereign states that are themselves prone to war.33 Kant observes that the ethos of war is so engrained in extant societies that “military courage is judged…to be of immediately great worth, not only if there is war…but also that there may be war, and war is often begun in order to display courage; hence an inner dignity is put in war itself” [pp 8:365]. In this respect, this solution “of nature” does not “solve” the problem of global antagonism at all, but merely displaces it from the level of warring people to that of warring states. In his earlier essay on the “Conjectural Beginning of Human History,” Kant argues that not only war but the predisposition for war among states proves almost as much an evil for societies as the beginnings of lawful government proved a benefit, as “[to] the never relenting and even ceaselessly increasing armament for future war…are applied all forces of the state, all fruits of its culture that could be used for still greater culture; in so many places freedom is mightily injured and the maternal provision of the state for individual members is transformed into an unrelenting hardness for these demands” [cbh 8:121].

Kant notes a similar paradox in Perpetual Peace, where Kant notes how the keeping of soldiers in standing armies involves “a use of human beings as mere machines and tools in the hands of another (a state), and this cannot well be reconciled with the right of humanity on our own person” [pp 8:345]. As we saw above, this “right of humanity” is a central component of Kant’s conception of freedom in accordance with right. Later, he jeers European governments for fancying themselves civilizationally superior to the “lawless freedom” of “American savages” while only reproducing an even more intense savagery under the rule of an absolute monarch, whose “splendor…consists in his being able…to command many thousands to sacrifice themselves for a matter that is of no concern to them” [pp 8:354–5]. So even if we can see how “nature” has provided that people sharing the earth in common as a commercium are driven by the mechanism of war to form civil societies, it still falls upon our own powers of reason and reflective judgment to note the limits of that provision and press beyond it.


Kant’s cosmopolitical method is not the straightforward application of abstract moral philosophy to political affairs; nor does it involve the teleological alignment of enlightenment-era notions of morality with a grand plan of nature. Rather, it sets up the terms by which we can use our own reason to reflect upon our historical situation and the challenges we face—not as isolated moral subjects or even as citizens in one society, but as participants in a global whole. The schema of thinking of actors sharing the earth as a commercium of interaction whereby each actor is compelled to live “side by side” with and affect others lays out the initial challenge, while the Rechtsprinzip specifies the general parameters within which such a challenge must be met. It then falls upon us to look back theoretically upon history (“everything that has happened in the course of nature, and on empirical grounds inevitably had to happen” [cpr A550/B578]) and make judgments on their implications from a practical point of view. Granted, today the social sciences have developed tools of historical-sociological analysis that are better suited to theoretical reflection upon history than teleological speculation of the kind Kant employed; however, this does not change the general centrality of such systematic reflection to grapple with global problems from a cosmopolitan point of view. How might we apply such a method today?

It is worth recalling that Kant wrote Toward Perpetual Peace in the form of a peace treaty. Kant takes up for himself the role of a hypothetical diplomat, and in doing so he presents himself not as a philosopher observing global politics from a distance but as a participant—that is, as a citizen of the world taking up his mantle to intervene through his own public use of reason, based on his own judgment of things that happen that nevertheless ought not to have happened. Thus his three “Definitive Articles” that comprise the three central tenets of his proposal for a rightful (rechtlich) world order—republican constitutionalism, a voluntary league of states, and a universal right to hospitality—can be read as proposed emendations to the problems of world order as understood in the late eighteenth century. Even then, while many commentators (reasonably) interpret Kant’s ideal of peace to begin and end with these and only these institutional provisions,34 others have made strong arguments that these tenets are meant as a “transitional” step toward a more substantive cosmopolitan constitutional order that may or may not fall short of a world republic.35 What interests me, in concluding this essay, is how the logic of Kant’s cosmopolitical methodology can be used to interpret problems that Kant himself did not identify. I will briefly mention two: global capitalism and environmental degradation.

Kant’s views on “cosmopolitan right” are sometimes read as merely promoting trade, along with an ideal of the human being as “mediocre Liberal Man”.36 Like several of his contemporaries, including Montesquieu, Adam Smith, and Benjamin Constant, Kant did champion the “spirit of commerce” and the “power of money” as a means of facilitating cosmopolitan interaction and ending war [pp 8:368]. But it would stand to reason that should that same network of commerce become a vehicle for the “use of human beings as mere machines and tools in the hands of another” [pp 8:345], it would be similarly offensive to Kant’s ideal of a cosmopolitan society of free world citizens. Kant had no illusions about the corrupting power of money. Just as he thought the mere existence of standing armies promoted offensive war, so too does accumulation of wealth, in his view, encourage a militaristic posture: “of the three powers, the power of armies, the power of alliances, and the power of money, the last might well be the most reliable instrument of war” [pp 8:345]. But if interstate and imperialist war were the most glaring threats to “the right of humanity in our own person” in 1795, the same principles with which Kant diagnosed the pathologies of world order then should also serve the diagnosis of contemporary problems such as runaway global capitalism. Only here, the original antagonism among participants sharing the earth in common is displaced not only into antagonism between states but between classes, and even—on a global scale—between classes of states, where some are converted into mere means for others.

This can be illustrated even further with reference to current ecological dangers. Merten Reglitz recently pointed out the possible relevance of Kant’s Rechtsprinzip to present-day concerns over natural resource depletion and climate change. Despite the extended treatment Kant gives to possession of land and territory in Rechtslehhre, he argues that the principles of right cannot be restricted to rules of property: “climate change…shows very clearly that there are resources…that are vital for the opportunities that people have in life but that are not tied to territory.”37 Reglitz has in mind not only atmospheric resources but also unowned resources (such as oceans) as well as “fugacious” or moving resources (such as flowing water or fish). Such resources are difficult to classify in terms of right if we restrict our notions of it to possession of land; they only make sense if we understand them in relation to actors in commercium—i.e., from a cosmopolitan point of view. Moreover, the depletion of the Earth’s resources is not simply a matter of distributive justice. A couple of studies, for example, have even suggested the recent conflict in Syria owes some of its causes to droughts and crop failures influenced by climate change, leading to economic suffering and mass migrations from the countryside into the cities, which in turn contributed to an escalation of social and political tensions.38 And this is to say nothing of the massive displacement of persons across borders generated by the conflict itself. If the original antagonism that constitutes the problem of global Recht arises from the fact that actors are compelled to share the limited surface of the earth in common, this antagonism cannot be resolved if the sustainability of the surface’s habitability is deteriorated. On the contrary, such deterioration exacerbates the original problem of global Recht by making otherwise plausible solutions to sharing the earth in common infeasible on account of there being, as it were, less earth to share.

But since not every threat to human freedom can be foreseen, it can only fall, not on the philosopher, but on the world citizens themselves to identify and make critical sense of those developments in world history that conspire against the freedom to negotiate for ourselves how we share the earth in common. The cosmopolitan project envisioned by Kant is not a one-shot matter of applying rigid moral principles to political affairs, but an ongoing exercise in reflective judgment by citizens of the world. To take Kant’s cosmopolitan vision as beginning and ending with his definitive articles of Perpetual Peace is to miss the open-endedness of the cosmopolitan project, which, like reason itself, “has no dictatorial authority, but whose claim is never anything more than the agreement of free citizens, each of whom must be able to express his reservation, indeed even his veto, without holding back” [cpr A738–9/B766–7]. Today, it can only fall upon Kant’s successors to have the courage to use their own understanding to draw up the preliminary and definitive articles of a cosmopolitan constitution.


John Rawls, The Law of Peoples (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999).


Jürgen Habermas, “Kant’s Idea of Perpetual Peace, with the Benefit of Two Hundred Years’ Hindsight,” in Perpetual Peace: Essays on Kant’s Cosmopolitan Ideal, ed. James Bohman and Matthias Lutz-Bachmann (Cambridge, MA: mit Press, 1997); Jürgen Habermas, The Divided West, trans. Ciaran Cronin (Cambridge, uk: Polity, 2006); Jürgen Habermas, The Crisis of the European Union: A Response, trans. Ciaran Cronin (Cambridge, uk: Polity, 2012).


Seyla Benhabib, The Rights of Others: Aliens, Residents, and Citizens (Cambridge, uk: Cambridge University Press, 2004); Seyla Benhabib, Another Cosmopolitanism, ed. Robert Post (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006); Seyla Benhabib, Dignity in Adversity: Human Rights in Troubled Times (Cambridge, uk: Polity, 2011).


Andreas Behnke, “‘Eternal Peace’ as the Graveyard of the Political: A Critique of Kant’s Zum Ewigen Frieden,” Millennium: Journal of International Studies 36, no. 3 (2008): 513–31.


James D. Ingram, Radical Cosmopolitics: The Ethics and Politics of Democratic Universalism (New York: Columbia University Press, 2013).


John Rawls, Political Liberalism, expanded ed. (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005), xxix.


Onora O’Neill, Constructions of Reason: Explorations in Kant’s Practical Philosophy (Cambridge, uk: Cambridge University Press, 1989); Miguel Vatter, “The People Shall Be Judge: Reflective Judgment and Constituent Power in Kant’s Philosophy of Law,” Political Theory 39, no. 6 (2011): 749–76.


Sankar Muthu, Enlightenment against Empire (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003).


Albena Azmanova, The Scandal of Reason: A Critical Theory of Political Judgment (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012); Asger Sørensen, “Cosmopolitanism—Not a ‘Major Ideology,’ but Still an Ideology,” Philosophy and Social Criticism 42, no. 2 (2016): 200–24.


Marcus Willaschek, “Which Imperatives for Right? On the Non-Prescriptive Character of Juridical Laws in Kant’s Metaphysics of Morals,” in Kant’s Metaphysics of Morals: Interpretive Essays, ed. Mark Timmons, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 65–88; Allen Wood, “The Final Form of Kant’s Practical Philosophy,” in Kant’s Metaphysics of Morals, Timmons, ed., 1–22; Thomas Pogge, “Is Kant’s Rechtslehre a ‘Comprehensive Liberalism’?” in Kant’s Metaphysics of Morals, Timmons, ed., 133–58.


Wood, “The Final Form of Kant’s Practical Philosophy,” 7.


Marcus Willaschek, “Right and Coercion: Can Kant’s Conception of Right Be Derived from His Moral Theory?,” International Journal of Philosophical Studies 17, no. 1 (2009): 49–70; Pogge, “Is Kant’s Rechtslehre a ‘Comprehensive Liberalism’”; Robert B. Pippin, “Mine and Thine? The Kantian State,” in The Cambridge Companion to Kant and Modern Political Philosophy, ed. Paul Guyer (Cambridge, uk: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 416–46.


See Pogge, “Is Kant’s Rechtslehre a ‘Comprehensive Liberalism,’” 138–9.


Wood, “The Final Form of Kant’s Practical Philosophy,” 12–13.


Pogge, “Is Kant’s Rechtslehre a ‘Comprehensive Liberalism,’” 151.


Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Basic Political Writings, trans. and ed. Donald A. Cress (Indiana­polis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1987), 141.


Cf. Rousseau, Basic Political Writings, 162–5.


Brian Milstein, “Kantian Cosmopolitanism beyond ‘Perpetual Peace’: Commercium, Critique, and the Cosmopolitan Problematic,” European Journal of Philosophy 21, no. 1 (2013): 118–43.


See also Vatter, “The People Shall Be Judge.”


Vatter, “The People Shall Be Judge,” 762.


Michael Friedman, “Philosophy of Natural Science,” in The Cambridge Companion to Kant and Modern Political Philosophy, ed. Paul Guyer, 303–41 (Cambridge, uk: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 314–7.


Katrin Flikschuh, Kant and Modern Political Philosophy (Cambridge, uk: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 133.


Arthur Ripstein, Force and Freedom: Kant’s Legal and Political Philosophy (Cambridge, ma: Harvard University Press, 2009), 369.


Béatrice Longuenesse, Kant and the Capacity to Judge: Sensibility and Discursivity in the Transcendental Analytic of the Critique of Pure Reason, trans. Charles T. Wolfe (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998).


Béatrice Longuenesse, Kant on the Human Standpoint (Cambridge, uk: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 206–7.


Milstein, “Kantian Cosmopolitanism beyond ‘Perpetual Peace.’”


Brian Milstein, Commercium: Critical Theory from a Cosmopolitan Point of View (London: Rowman & Littlefield International, 2015), 151–5.


Susan Meld Shell, The Embodiment of Reason: Kant on Spirit, Generation, and Community (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996), 168–9.


Milstein, “Kantian Cosmopolitanism beyond ‘Perpetual Peace,’” 129–30.


Vatter, “The People Shall Be Judge,” 758–60.


Behnke, “‘Eternal Peace’ as the Graveyard of the Political,” 517–21; see also Reinhart Koselleck, Critique and Crisis: Enlightenment and the Pathogenesis of Modern Society (Cambridge, ma: mit Press, 1988).


Vatter, “The People Shall Be Judge,” 753.


Milstein, Commercium, 131–2.


Habermas, “Kant’s Idea of Perpetual Peace”; Habermas, The Divided West; Rawls, The Law of Peoples; Katrin Flikschuh, “Kant’s Sovereignty Dilemma: A Contemporary Analysis,” Journal of Political Philosophy 18, no. 4 (2010): 469–93.


Pauline Kleingeld, “Approaching Perpetual Peace: Kant’s Defence of a League of States and his Ideal of a World Federation,” European Journal of Philosophy 12, no. 3 (2004): 304–25; Pauline Kleingeld, Kant and Cosmopolitanism: The Philosophical Ideal of World Citizenship (Cambridge, uk: Cambridge University Press, 2012); Claudio Corradetti, “Kant’s Legacy and the Idea of a Transitional Jus Cosmopoliticum,” Ratio Juris 29, no. 1 (2016): 105–21; Merten Reglitz, “A Kantian Argument Against World Poverty,” European Journal of Political Theory, online first (2016) doi: 10.1177/1474885116662566.


Behnke, “‘Eternal Peace’ as the Graveyard of the Political,” 519–20, 531; cf. Flikschuh, “Kant’s Sovereignty Dilemma,” 475–6.


Reglitz, “A Kantian Argument Against World Poverty,” 10.


Peter H. Gleick, “Water, Drought, Climate Change, and Conflict in Syria,” Weather, Climate, and Society 6, no. 3 (2014): 331–40; Colin P. Kelley, et. al. “Climate Change in the Fertile Crescent and Implications of the Recent Syrian Drought,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 112, no. 11 (2015): 3241–6; see also Milstein, Commercium, 268.

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