Introducing Theme and Articles

In: Danish Yearbook of Philosophy
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  • 1 Aarhus University

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Toward Perpetual Peace is a fascinating book. It was published first in 1795, reprinted with minor changes the following year and immediately translated into English, French, Polish, Swedish and Danish.1 Hence, from the outset it was an unconditional success. And no wonder. Kant had already by then acquired a well-deserved transnational fame, the theme was highly relevant in a part of Europe marred by wars and revolutions, and at first sight the book is quite appealing to the general audience, i.e. very short and explicit in its composition, becoming in its introductory remarks and the sections being ordered with numbers in an apparently straightforward and simple way. Moreover, by the reputation of the author, the argument would be expected to be worth reading, and the matter at hand thus seems much less intimidating than, for instance, his three monumental Critiques.

The title being as it is, we must assume Kant’s argument to be about peace. As Otfried Höffe stresses, however, this simple fact has often not been given the attention that it deserves. Strange as it may be, peace is not a theme discussed intensely by modern philosophers. Kant, however, argued peace to be the goal of history already in his 1784 essay “Idea of a History in the Perspective of a World Citizen,” i.e. while still working on the Critiques, and peace is a recurrent theme in many of the subsequent works, thus making it a “fundamental theme […] of his entire philosophy.”2 This being the case, as Volker Gerhardt has argued, Toward Perpetual Peace must be considered not just a peace project, but a statement of the condition for politics in general. Hence, there is a tradition in political philosophy for considering peace as fundamental for politics, going from Plato and Aristotle over Cicero and Augustin to the renaissance Marsilius of Padua and his famous treatise Defensor pacis, i.e. The Defender of Peace, and this approach, as well as the preoccupation, is also encountered in the works of Machiavelli, Hobbes and Rousseau,3 the latter two being among Kant’s main inspirations. Worth mentioning is also that Luther was preoccupied with peace.4 Hence, Kant’s peace project is definitely not the first in the history of thought. However, according to Höffe, innovation must be acknowledged in the fact that peace is no longer considered a question of theology, but of legal and political philosophy.5 Following Hobbes, Kant stresses that war is the natural condition and that peace therefore must be “established [gestiftet]”6 [pp 8:349]. Establishing peace through law and right was the project,7 and this is still a relevant project today, where the world is haunted by globalized capitalism, political crises, and climate changes. Hence, in spite of many good intentions, the number of wars and refugees are increasing, and therefore Kant’s project for eternal peace is sadly more relevant than ever.

I Interpretative Approaches: Externality vs. Internality

In spite of Kant’s clearly stated intention, many scholars have since the publication of this small pamphlet spent quite considerable amounts of time trying to figure out what it is exactly about, i.e. how it should be read and precisely what it argues. This has also been the case for the authors of the present compilation, and there seems to be no end to the commentaries. Confronted with a range of intricate complexities and apparent paradoxes or even contradictions, for decades the standard explanation was that Kant’s works from the 1790s were not really up to the same standards as those from the 1780s, indicating sometimes that Kant was in fact beginning to show signs of senility.8 Even when it comes to the third Critique that was published in 1790, in the 1930s it was possible to publish an extensive commentary disposing of more than a third of Kant’s text as not worth discussing.9

In general, as Paul Lübcke has emphasized, the gist of 20th-century neo-Kantian ideology was that to get to the core of Kant’s critical thought, one should simply stick to the first two Critiques,10 thus privileging his contributions to theory of knowledge and ethics, and by implication ignoring his work on esthetics, history, politics, law and anthropology where the main publications stem from the 1790s. In particular with regard to Kant’s philosophy of law, already by Schopenhauer it was considered to be a “strange tangle of errors” that could only be explained by “Kant’s feebleness through old age,”11 and, as B. Sharon Byrd and Joachim Hruschka relate, only a few decades ago in the Anglophone world, Kant’s legal philosophy was still “ignored, misunderstood, poorly translated, and deemed too esoteric for any serious scholar of law.”12

However, as it has now been well established, even though Kant mainly published on these subjects in the 1790s, he had in fact lectured and written for decades on, in particular, law, politics, and anthropology.13 In fact, already in 1768 Kant announced the Metaphysics of Morality that was to appear almost 30 years later, and that has made it possible to argue that for Kant the theoretical critique of pure reason was secondary to practical philosophy, but also that his philosophy of law was pre-critical.14 Be that as it may, when it comes to precisely the disciplines just mentioned, Kant clearly changed his mind to the better on some crucial issues after the French revolution in 1789. Hence, while famously arguing for a universalist ethics in the 1780s, still he maintained the idea of a racial hierarchy that was also a moral hierarchy, which implied white supremacy and was compatible with the slavery of non-whites.15 As Pauline Kleingeld has emphasized, Kant only slowly changed his stand on these issues as the idea of world citizenship gained substance in his thought, and only after being criticized severely by his contemporaries.16

When it comes to politics and law, and especially when it comes to consistency between ethical universalism and the rights of the world citizen, Kant was thus a far better philosopher in the mid-1790s than in the 1780s. Therefore it is also reasonable to assume that Kant continued refining his position after publishing Toward Perpetual Peace,17 and that implies taking into account the first part of the Metaphysics of Morality, i.e. the Doctrine of Right published in 1797, where we get further statements on some of the subjects discussed in the treatise on peace. Still, some argue, e.g. Howard Williams, that the peace pamphlet takes up where the doctrine ends.18 This still being an undecided issue, recent editions of the former have therefore included selected paragraphs of the latter.19

Fortunately, the neo-Kantian strategy of explaining away, reducing, or simply ignoring what is not so easily understood in Kant’s text has given way to alternative reading strategies. Höffe thus acclaims the metaphysics employed by Kant,20 where the point of departure is the idea of property as something else than physically holding something in the hand [see dr 6:245–49 (§ 1–5)]. Hence, categorizing an act as theft presupposes a non-empirical, and thus metaphysical, concept of property. Without metaphysics in this modest sense, one cannot say that somebody has rightly or wrongly come into the possession of somebody else’s property. Metaphysics thus makes possible the distinction between mine and yours and thus legal and illegal transactions, hence ultimately between trade and theft.

However, some of the reading strategies chosen today, although much more appreciative in relation to Kant’s later work, still suggest external explanatory approaches. Hence, when it comes to Toward Perpetual Peace, many are those who have emphasized the sense of irony that Kant demonstrates on many occasions. Thus charmed by the apparent wit of the elegant magister who at times allegedly lived like a Prussian flaneur,21 many contemporary readers however fail to appreciate what may have induced Kant to refine and develop such talents. Karl Jaspers mentions that we only encounter this irony when Kant deals with issues that touch upon “human reality and history,” i.e. not in science or “speculative thought.”22 Moreover, relevant in this context is also the presence and severity of the Prussian censorship and, more in general, the political situation in a Prussian monarchy confronted with neighboring France that proved to be both revolutionary and republican.

The point is that living in a non-democratic society always imposes certain restrictions on the liberty of expression, especially for prospective university professors, but also when a position is obtained, and this was also the case two hundred years ago. In the draft to a letter from the 1791 Kant thus argues that one can be sincere without being frank, thus telling the truth, but not the whole truth, and that such reserve and caution do not imply lying, saying something false, or being insincere [see Kant, Corr-ii 11:332].23 And in a much earlier letter to Moses Mendelssohn from 1766, i.e. before obtaining his position as professor, Kant admits to have thought through to his own satisfaction many things that he did not have the courage to tell, but he insisted that he would never say what he did not mean [see Kant, Corr-i 10:69].24

Taking Kant seriously means not just engaging with the issues that he discusses and the arguments he employs, but also appreciating the precarious conditions of his philosophical work, i.e. adopting an approach that is both internal and external. After dealing first a little more with external issues such as irony, censorship, and revolution, I will change focus to the content of Toward Perpetual Peace, presenting some of the main discussions taken up in the contemporary reception. The literature is enormous, the commentaries innumerable, and the five studies collected in this special issue all stand on the shoulders of giants. Without claiming any overview, in the present introduction to the discussion of Kant’s peace project, priority will be given to arguments and comments stemming from non-Anglophone sources, thus attempting to introduce relatively unfamiliar perspectives in the current English language discussions on these issues, thus suggesting voices that may not have gotten the attention they deserve.

Irony, Style, and Rhetorics

Kant’s wit is already demonstrated on the first page of Toward Perpetual Peace, where he makes ironic remarks relating to both the title and the subtitle A Philosophical Project. Making the title work as an introduction to the first sentence of the preface, Kant proceeds directly to make some remarks about a Dutch Inn allegedly bearing this “satirical” name, i.e. “Toward Perpetual Peace” [pp 8:343], and where the signpost shows a graveyard. The lesson is clear: Only when we are all dead, will there be eternal peace. As Gerhardt calls attention to, the irony of this first sentence is even multi-layered and filled with hidden references, undoubtedly intended to elicit certain associations. Hence, Leibniz in his codex for the law of peoples also made an ironic reference to a Dutch inn, and he furthermore in a letter mentioned a cemetery gate bearing the words ‘Eternal Peace.’25

Moreover, the subtitle becomes important, since Kant immediately after these remarks contrasts the practical politician and the philosopher, the former acting self-consciously as a “knowledgeable” statesman proceeding from “basic principles of experience,” and regarding the latter as merely “theoretical,” thus preoccupied with “school knowledge [i.e. scholastics],” “sweet dreams,” and “empty ideas” [pp 8:343]. Thus considered, a philosophical project for perpetual peace cannot be regarded as hostile to the state, nor does it pose any real threat, and it would therefore be ridiculous of the authorities to employ any repressive measures to silence it. As emphasized by Oliver Eberl and Peter Niesen, if theory is irrelevant or ideas are empty, there is no reason to censor such utterances.26 The Prussian censors can therefore rest in peace, and if that is not enough to put them at ease, Kant adds by the end of the preface that it is indeed a “clausula salvatoria” [pp 8:343], i.e. a clause intended to save the author from suspicions of subversive intentions.

On the one hand, Kant himself in a letter characterized his peace project as a “sweet dream,” [Corr-iii 12:45]27 on the other hand the eternal peace of the graveyard is re-invoked later as part of a serious argument against the kind of actions that endangers mutual trust [see pp 8:347]. The introductory clause thus introduces in an exemplary way a text that is rife with ambiguities, equivocalities and irony, or satire, as Kant himself indicates. Also, the composition of the book has attracted comments in this direction, and many commentators have argued that the text is composed as a typical peace treaty of that era,28 thus being given a literary form, the esthetics of which adds yet another layer to the content. Hence, a treaty has the form of a contract, which adds to the idea of perpetual peace as a legal phenomenon, but just like a contract, a regular peace treaty is only something temporary. However, as Kant argues, this would imply that there would be no difference between peace and an armistice, and then the addition “perpetual,” first thought of as superfluous, is in fact a necessary qualification. Moreover, as Hans Saner argues,29 the irony is accentuated by the fact that text presented to the public is not a legal contract between conflicting states after all, but only a piece of fiction, i.e. a “philosophical project” or a “sketch” [pp 8:341].

Especially a second supplement that was added only in the second edition has attracted attention in this perspective.30 Under the heading “secret article” [pp 8:368] Kant thus argues for states to consult philosophers when considering war, and, more in general, for the need for public philosophical deliberation concerning matters of state. However, in contrast to Plato he does not recommend philosopher-kings, since “the possession of power inevitably will corrupt the free judgment” [pp 8:369]. Knowing that he ultimately stresses publicity as the transcendental criterion of right [see pp 8:386],31 the relation between the heading and the text, as well as the remark about how power corrupts judgment, is taken as yet another proof of Kant’s well-developed sense of irony and humor;32 as Steffen Dietzsch remarks, “Kant is always full of irony.”33

All this attention to the possible irony and humor of Kant in Toward Perpetual Peace could indicate that many people still find it surprising that the mature Kant, the author of the Critiques, apparently after all was not such a drag, as his transcendentalism, and the alleged regularity of his daily life,34 often has led people to presume. However, adding to this intended ambiguity was in all likelihood also a well-grounded fear of the Prussian censorship and its possible repercussions, Kant having himself just a few years before been reproached about his writings on religion,35 and as a consequence, in 1794 he made the promise not to write about religion anymore.36 More than merely ironic, Kant thus has good reason to be “sarcastic,”37 and adding the secret article in 1796 can also be taken as a sign of “sarcasm,”38 i.e. as a comment on the Basel peace treaty between France and Prussia the year before, where it seemed afterwards that Prussia only gave up its claims on the western banks of the Rhine expecting secretly to be compensated by lands obtained by the final division of Poland.39

Kant’s ambiguities thus have an edge. Hence, as Gerhard stresses, if a philosophical argument is not made silent by censorship, when first made public, it challenges the real political projects of the authorities, forcing them to give reasons in public for their acts by referring to principles, and then suddenly the politicians find themselves on the home ground of the philosophers.40 Employing censorship to avoid public deliberation is therefore not without reason in the logic of power, and Kant’s attempt to circumvent it equally not just for fun. As pointed out by Gerhardt, the stylistic choices made by Kant bear witness to a “rhetorical approach to politics,”41 demonstrating Kant to be especially conscious about the public aspect of the political process, i.e. that politics as common guidelines for action are closely connected to the art of popular persuasion, even in a monarchy. This consciousness is expressed even more strongly in the argument for publicity as the transcendental principle for politics and law that concludes Toward Perpetual Peace and accordingly will be the object of the ultimate comments in the present introduction.

Censorship, Adaptivity, and Revolution

No doubt, the need expressed by Kant for a salvatory clause clearly adds to the overall ironic ambiguity, but it should nevertheless also be taken both literally and seriously. As mentioned, Kant already had his experiences with censorship, and the success of a royal philosopher in this era was clearly dependent on the talent for keeping one’s tongue, saying things between the lines, and being able to appreciate the over-all political situation. Hence, the license to argue for publicity and republican rule was different before and after 1789. In “What is Enlightenment?” from 1784 Kant could thus argue relatively straightforwardly that enlightenment requires “freedom” in the “public use of one’s reason” [E 8:36]. Most of the argument though, is spent on arguing for this use being in fact harmless, since we, according to the “private use” [E 8:38] of reason, must “obey” [E 8:37] and that such obedience is no hindrance to freedom.

The modest and very cautious conclusion is then that Enlightenment means that you may “argue as much as you want and about whatever you want, but [that you must always] obey!” Hence, freedom is for Kant first and foremost “free thinking,” but in conclusion, he does stress that this freedom is supposed to sow the seeds so that “people gradually become more capable of freedom of action,” and that finally “even […] the principles of government” may be in accordance with the “dignity” [pp 8:341–42] of human beings. For Kant it was therefore important to stress that the era was one in the process of being enlightened rather than an era of enlightenment already achieved [see E 8:40].

To those who were at the time well informed and perceptive, there could be no doubt as to Kant’s republican leanings. Hence, in the Critique of Pure Reason, first published in 1781, discretely placed under the title of “About the Ideas as such” (i.e. in the second part on the transcendental elements, in the second section, first book, first paragraph), Kant argues quite clearly and at length for the value of Plato’s idea of the republic, emphasizing the necessity of a constitution with laws enabling everybody to live in freedom with each other [see cpr, A316/B373]. As he puts it, the more legislation and government are in accordance with this idea, “the more seldom will be the punishments,” and even if such an idea will never be realized, “still the idea is completely right” [cpr A317/B373–74].42 Hence, Reinhard Brandt can with good reason label Kant a “Platonic accepting the conditions of Modernity.”43

The French revolution, however, changed the political situation completely, making the conjectural and principled freedom of a constitutional republican government a real possibility, also in the German lands. Kant became in those years publicly known to be enthusiastic about not only the idea of the republic, but also the real revolution,44 which after an interlude as a constitutional monarchy was finally in 1793 proclaimed a republic. As Kleingeld argues, whereas in the 1780s Kant was skeptical towards a perfect constitutional rule due to the crookedness of human nature [see rel 6:100], in the 1790s he became a convinced republican, believing it to be both normatively demanded and in harmony with people’s self-interest.45 However, in 1786 the enlightenment king, Frederick ii died, and his successor Frederick Wilhelm ii was much more authoritarian and religious, thus establishing a much stricter practice of censorship. Whatever may be the reason, in the 1790s Kant apparently became much more cautious in his way of expressing himself. As Dominico Losurdo analyzes Kant’s problems with the censorship in relation to his writings on religion in the 1790s, there is no doubt that there is a retreat to obscurity and that the resulting changes amount to a “real concession.”46 In fact, the opinion of Fichte was clearly that Kant only saved himself by his “obscurity”47 and in a letter to Fichte Schelling even accused Kant of “duplicity,”48 i.e. intellectual dishonesty.

To take an example from Toward Perpetual Peace from 1795–96, it thus seems rather strange that Kant in the first definitive article, on the one hand, categorically declares that the “civil constitution in every state must be republican” [pp 8:349], since this is the only form of government securing the freedom and equality of the citizens, while, on the other hand, interpreting republicanism as requiring only representation and division of the legislative power from the executive. It is this interpretation that enables him to argue that the form of government under then late Fredrick ii was “in accordance with the spirit of a representative system” [pp 8:352], i.e. republican in spirit.49 Kant even allows himself to argue that this idea of representation means that the fewer the rulers, the more representative and thus republican the government. The ambiguous conclusion is then, firstly, an argument for monarchy as best capable of making reforms, and, secondly in a footnote in the same paragraph, an argument claiming that good instances of monarchy is not an argument for it as a form of government, followed by an uncompromising critique of monarchical succession, claiming that the cure for such deficiencies is “the good constitution” [pp 8:353].

For Losurdo, this points to a general problem. Having established that in those years self-censorship made Kant’s arguments, at best, ambiguous, what is alarming is that Kant is not alone in his willingness to make such concessions with regard to the logical rigor.50 According to Schelling, the same thing happens ultimately also for Fichte,51 and one can even argue that classical German idealism as such, including left-Hegelianism, is haunted and in a way even constituted by the ambiguities produced by bourgeois self-censorship and willingness to compromise, the result of this accommodating spirit thus being what Marx appropriately labeled the “German Misery.”52 As Losurdo argues persuasively, in general the logic of the compromise between the intellectuals and the dominating power is that the former get access to the public use of reason that they cannot live without, but the presupposition is that the results of their use of reason, through the process of self-censorship, have become so obscure that they are very difficult to understand for the broader public.53 Hence, Toward Perpetual Peace was clearly aimed at the broader public, and that of course influenced the choices of genre and style, but the tragedy is that for the very same reason, because of the censorship, Kant probably also felt the need be obscure, ironic, and ambiguous.

Turning towards the Main Questions and Presenting the Articles

Taking Toward Perpetual Peace seriously means trying to make sense of it as a proper argument. However, in many cases this apparently leads to complexities, paradoxes, and contradictions, but rather than explain away these obstacles, the point is to appreciate Kant’s situation and his way of coping with it, navigating between reason, rationality, and reasonability. Obviously, he experiences being forced into strategy and instrumentality, but he just as clearly refuses to be degraded by the compelling logic of furtivity, cunning, and fear.

Hence, what we are dealing with is various kinds of escape strategies, but the idea is not simply to accuse Kant of ambiguity, obscurity, and duplicity and then to explain away what he in fact argues as merely an expression of his fear of repercussions. Keeping the political situation in mind does not imply reducing the content of the argument to be explainable by external factors and subjective rationality. An adequate interpretation must always aim to reconstruct an account that is internally consistent, applying the principle of charity to reconstruct it as strongly as possible. Still, it must nevertheless acknowledge the precarity of a public intellectual, striving to reach a conclusion that is both rational and reasonable. In fact and in principle, the basic conditions of academic scholarship today are not that different. Few today have to face official censorship, but self-censorship, compromise, and submissiveness are constant threats when jobs are scarce and tenure under threat.

Adopting an external view of the text itself, the structure of Toward Perpetual Peace is, as mentioned, modeled after peace treaties of that era, stating first the preliminary conditions to be fulfilled to have hostilities come to an end, and then determining the definitive terms of the future peaceful state of affairs.54 Hence, the first section contains six preliminary articles and the second three definitive articles, and the two main sections are then followed by, first, two supplements and, then, an appendix. Within this structure, what poses as the main sections in reality contains a sequence of only relatively short articles, whereas the appendix consists of two rather long parts, the consequence being that all of the addenda put together are much longer than all of the main articles put together. As Allen Wood has stressed, the composition of the text is indeed puzzling, leaving the reader to wonder what are in fact the relations between the different components.55

Today there is a growing consensus about what Kant did in fact discuss in Toward Perpetual Peace, but still there are many questions of interpretation that divide even very experienced Kant scholars. In this introduction, I will present some of the most pertinent and persistent questions regarding Toward Perpetual Peace. The presentations will be ordered according to the order in which the questions arise in Kant’s text, i.e. first the preliminary articles (ii.), then the definitive articles (iii.), and, finally, the addenda, i.e. the supplements and the appendix (iv.). Despite the proportions just mentioned, most commentators have related primarily to the questions raised by the two main sections, and this is also the case when it comes to the introduction, as well as the contributions, to the present compilation.

Hence, Mogens Chrom Jacobsen mainly addresses questions raised by the first section, whereas Claudio Corradetti, Peter Niesen, and Brian Milstein rather discuss issues raised in the articles in the second section, primarily the second and the third article. Milstein, however, also emphasizes the first supplement in his analysis, and when it comes to the long appendix that is often neglected, Carsten Fogh Nielsen offers a close reading. Presenting further what these contributions in fact argue, will be part of the presentation below. This is just to say that, all in all, this small compilation does in fact offer a broad commentary on Kant’s text.

II First Section: Preliminary Articles to Eternal Peace

The first section and its six preliminary articles do not get many comments in the Kant-literature.56 The articles identify the main causes of war by singling them out for prohibition, thus suggesting a procedure for the transformation of traditional international law of the jungle, or the natural law of peoples, to a law of peoples governed by the idea of perpetual peace.57 In this sense, as Eberl and Niesen suggest, they represent an “intermediate stage in between state of nature and state of law between states.”58

Hence, as Kant argues, firstly, no peace settlement must secretly reserve issues that may cause another war, secondly, no state must be at risk of being acquired by another state through “inheritance, exchange, purchase, or gift” [pp 8:344], thirdly, standing armies shall be abolished, fourthly, states shall not contract debt as part of their foreign affairs, fifthly, no state shall interfere in the “constitution and government of another state” [pp 8:346], and, sixth and finally, no state shall allow the kind of hostilities in war that in the future will prevent mutual trust and thus the possibility of peace.

Some of these prohibitions can be related to various specific historical circumstances in late 18th-century Europe. The overall philosophical idea, however, is that only when such preliminary conditions are fulfilled, will the political legal system specified in the definitive articles have a chance to sustain perpetual peace. As such, they summarize arguments that are both structural and based on experiences, i.e. stemming from both the a priori transcendentalist logic of philosophy of law and the a posteriori wisdom of political science.59 As Saner puts it, “all this is not, and does not guarantee, perpetual peace, but it provides the foundations for it.”60

Important is that Kant conceives of the six preliminary articles as “purely prohibitive laws” that can be divided into those that should be adhered to “strictly […] irrespective of circumstances” and those that can be admitted some “subjective latitude […] depending on the circumstances.” Of the first kind are the first, the fifth, and the sixth article, whereas the other three are of the second kind, the latter thus permitting “a postponement of their execution” [pp 8:347].

It is this distinction that Jacobsen discusses in his contribution to this compilation, stressing the apparent paradox that while for Kant there is a strict duty to adhere to the law in a state of law, there is only a loose duty to establish such a state. For Jacobsen the solution lies in the way Kant must conceive of duties in the state of nature, namely that the duty to obey the law presupposes the kind of reciprocity accomplished by realizing a state of law. Without this condition, obeying the law would only add to the precarity of the human being in the state of nature. Hence, the establishment of peace is a political task.

No Secret Reservations

Of the particular preliminary articles, I will only discuss the first and the fifth. The first clause may thus be read as a relevant concern for republican France and constitutional Poland, adding weight to the official public wording of the abovementioned peace treaty of Basel, thus providing increased security for France and implying as illegitimate Prussia’s secret reservations that were realized shortly after, namely to divide the rest of Poland with Russia. The main substance of the argument though, is provided by the logical and definitorial qualities of the words, namely by the fact that the concept of peace simply must be understood as eternal or perpetual; if not, it would only be an armistice. However, as Kant himself emphasizes, that makes the “adjective eternal [ewigen] a suspicious looking pleonasm” [pp 8:343].61 Focusing on the expression itself, Gerhard argues convincingly that Kant knew the distinction between perpetuality and eternity, the former requiring persistent effort on the human level, thus precisely leading to arguments concerning law, politics, and morality as employed by Kant in Toward Perpetual Peace, whereas what is eternal would be beyond human possibilities and point in the direction of theology.62

Kant himself, however, consistently uses ‘eternal,’ i.e. ‘ewigen’, which could be taken as an example of the abovementioned ambiguity, Kant thus recognizing implicitly that the peace project requires God’s benign interference. However, while acknowledging that Kant would indeed profit from such an ambiguity in relation to the censorship that only a few years before had demanded his recognition of the existence of divine miracles,63 still one could argue that Kant rather referred to processes such as those in nature, culture, and history that he clearly conceived of as following a dynamic beyond individual human choice and that – as we will see below – are in fact employed later in the argument for realizing perpetual peace, namely in the guarantee presented in the first supplement.

Such an interpretative strategy, at the same time internal and external, can of course be followed throughout the text, and in fact most interpreters do that more or less explicitly, having all at least some knowledge of the precarious conditions that Kant and his contemporaries were facing as public intellectuals. The point here, thus, was simply to add another example of the kind of interpretative dilemmas most readers easily get caught in when confronted with Toward Perpetual Peace. As mentioned, the text is rife with ambiguities, paradoxes, and maybe even contradictions that give good reason to raise questions as to what Kant actually meant.

No Intervention

The most controversial of the preliminary articles is the fifth that prohibits state-intervention in the affairs and ruling principles of another state.64 Again, this can be read as a well-placed concern for Poland and France, being both constitutional in another sense than most European empires, monarchies, and duchies, a number of the latter thus threatening the former two with all kinds of hostilities. Moreover, mutual non-interference with regard to “affairs of government” is stressed in the French republican constitution of 1793, Article 119. In general the point can be made that what is of concern here is the autonomy of a people, i.e. their popular sovereignty to choose their own constitution and government. In relation to the peace project, however, this simple article has a functional logic that is surprisingly seldom emphasized in the Kant-literature, namely that if crossing state borders by armies is prohibited, that alone would make it almost impossible to wage a war. Hence, this fifth prohibition must be considered crucial to achieve perpetual peace, and it is therefore also considered one of the basic principles in the charter of the United Nations (un), namely Article 2, paragraph 4.

It is therefore remarkable, as Eberl and Niesen call attention to, that Kant does not mention this general prohibition of armed state intervention in his Doctrine of Right.65 The reason may be, however, that Kant, instead of stating a prohibition, formulates a right, namely the right of a state to peace, i.e. the right to neutrality, to peace guarantees, and to form alliances “against attacks” [dr 6:349 (§ 59)]. As I see it, this basic right of states to live in peace is more or less equivalent to prohibiting military intervention of states into other states. Moreover, the whole Doctrine is concluded by a paragraph affirming, first, that there shall be no war, since this is not the “manner” to seek one’s “rights,” furthermore that we must therefore act “as if” perpetual peace is “real” [dr 6:354], and finally that perpetual peace is the “highest political good” [dr 6:355]. At this point, Kant thus seems rather consistent, although the wording and perspective have clearly changed.

Whatever may be the tensions between Toward Perpetual Peace and The Doctrine of Right, they have caused a lot of argument, not only among Kant scholars, but also in political science and philosophy. As Byrd and Hruschka make clear, a basic problem is that in the former there is absolutely no right to wage war, whereas in the latter apparently “Kant assumes precisely the opposite.”66 In the Doctrine of Right it is thus allowed to wage war under two circumstances, namely as a preventive strike when a state is experiencing the threat of a neighboring “tremendous growth of power” [dr 6:346 (§ 56)] and to coerce another state into a “juridical state” [dr 6:344 (§ 55)]. In contrast, in Toward Perpetual Peace the first reason is understood to be in conflict with the criterion of publicity and therefore “unlawful” [pp 8:384], whereas the second reason is denied, because it would mean a violation of the “internal legal constitution” [pp 8:355] of the state being coerced.

For Byrd and Hruschka, by publishing the Doctrine in 1797, Kant spells out his final position.67 In contrast, Williams argues in detail that Toward Perpetual Peace is Kant’s final statement on these issues: It constitutes his intervention in the public debate, it is “more radical,” and it spells “out the implication of [his] critical position for politics,” whereas the Doctrine is a “strictly academic,” “conjectural and abstract work on right.”68 The difference of genre is also emphasized by Eberl and Niesen,69 who argue that ultimately there is no real conflict, but a development, where the peace treatise solves problems left by the Doctrine.70 This discussion I will return to below in the comments to the second definitive article.

III Second Section: Definitive Articles to Eternal Peace

Introducing the second section we find another controversial argument relating to the discussion just mentioned. As indicated in the introductory paragraph above, Kant thus argues that peace must be “established.” The state of nature is war, even if there are no open hostilities. Hence, establishing peace means to leave the state of nature and enter the “state of law”; omitting to enter such a state – i.e. maintaining the natural “lawlessness” – is equivalent to being an “enemy.” As he stresses, all people that can influence each other “must belong to a civil constitution” [pp 8:349]. Without stating it directly, Kant thus allows for some kind of activist stand in relation to neighbors that do not demonstrate any inclination by themselves to enter into a state of law. Even in the peace treatise, apparently Kant recognizes the right to coerce a neighbor into a state of law, and some have even argued that in fact he allows for so-called humanitarian military interventions.71 Acknowledging, however, how Kant in general argues against interaction that may provoke war and may be considered causes of mistrust, I think this would carry the argument too far. The Kantian peace project is primarily a legal and political project, and, as Höffe stresses, the predominant concept of peace is therefore negative, namely prohibiting violence in order to safeguard right and law.72

Comparing the second section of Toward Perpetual Peace with the parallel discussions of the Doctrine, again one is struck by Kant’s choices of literary and esthetic form. Hence, when it comes to the basic categorical distinction that structures the whole idea of law in both works, i.e. distinguishing between state law, law of peoples, and law of the world citizen, in the former it is placed discretely in a long footnote [see pp 8:349], while in the latter it properly introduces the analysis of public law [see dr 6:311 (§ 43)], and so far I have not seen any good suggestions as to why this is so. Regarding the content of the distinction, the two works basically agree, just as the commentators converge, thus taking seriously Kant’s remark in the footnote that the distinction between the three species of law is “necessary in relation to the idea of perpetual peace” [pp 8:349] and, as mentioned above, this latter idea is the purpose of public law per se. The logic is persuasive, namely that thus structured, public law will cover all possible legal relations, firstly, relations within a state between citizens and authorities, secondly, relations between states as sovereign entities, and finally, relations between an individual state and an individual human being,73 namely the case where the human being is not a citizen of that particular state or not a citizen of a state at all.74 This defines the three definitive articles.

Comparing different commentaries to Toward Perpetual Peace, if we take a look back at its bicentennial, there was a lot of focus on questions raised by the first definitive article, i.e. the claim that the legal and political order of the state must be republican.75 Nowadays, after two more decades of accelerating globalization, the focus is clearly displaced, now primarily discussing questions raised by the second and the third article, i.e. the law of peoples and the law of the world citizen,76 and in the English speaking world these discussions are gathered under headings containing variations of the word ‘cosmopolitan.’77 Hence, this is also the part of Kant’s argument where most of the articles in this compilation put their emphasis, Corradetti relating mostly to the second article, whereas Niesen and Milstein rather relate to the third. Before turning to these issues, however, there are some interpretative controversies concerning the first article that are worth mentioning. As Höffe has put it bluntly, Kant employs a number of approaches and elements in his definition of republic, but he “does not address the problem of the coherence [of them].”78

State Law

Whereas the articles of the first section clearly stated a number of prohibitions, as Brandt stresses,79 the articles of the second section are all formulated as commands, the first being as already mentioned above, that every state constitution must be republican. Hence, Kant clearly regarded republican rule as a condition for peaceful relations between states. Nevertheless, he hastily weakens the bold claim of the first definitive article by emphasizing that a republican constitution must not be confused with a democracy. The argument is that the relevant distinction is not the number of persons involved in the rule of the state, but the “form of the mastery,” thus contrasting republican rule with despotism, where the former demands representation, while the latter allows for the identity of legislative and “executive power,” be that the people as such or a monarch. As mentioned above, stressing this distinction makes it possible for Kant to conclude that if the king is considered the “highest servant” of a constitutional state, this can be in “the spirit of a” [pp 8:352] republican system.

I have already commented on this slip from boldly claiming a republican constitution for every state to the final interpretation of republican representation backing up monarchical rule. In between, however, we find an argument for republican rule where Kant, as Williams has emphasized, is at his best as a democrat.80 Hence, when it comes to deciding about declaring a war, Kant argues that peace will benefit from letting the citizens decide, since they will carry the real burdens, or the “costs of war” [pp 8:351], being thus in all likelihood both taxpayers, soldiers, or both. This argument is often said not to assume popular pacifism or any other virtues, only the rational self-interest of the people.81 However, as Höffe stresses, this argument does not in itself secure peace. Thus conceived, people may have great confidence in their own superiority, they may use only voluntary, professional troops, and they may expect gains to be enormous from winning the war. Republics can, on this minimal account, at most be cautious or hesitant in relation to war, not averse; the latter would require some further moral inclination.82

Furthermore, Kant has been praised for in this particular case apparently not considering relevant the criterion of “independency” that implies a distinction between “active” and “passive” citizens, i.e. taxpayers and non-taxpayers. Hence, in the Doctrine this distinction made him distinguish between craftsmen and employees as well as men and “women” [dr 6:314]. At the time Kant was severely criticized by Friedrich Schlegel on this point, since “poverty and supposed corruptibility, womanliness and supposed weakness are not legitimate reasons for denying the right to vote.”83 Apparently accepting the argument in this particular case, Kant allows all citizens, i.e. also women and workers, to cast their rational vote when it comes to declaring war, and the argument that republican rule tends to be peaceful thus apparently presupposes a rather democratic understanding of a republic that conflicts with Kant’s own monarchical interpretation.84

A lot depends on Kant’s understanding of democracy. Toward Perpetual Peace famously states that “democracy in its proper sense” [pp 8:352] is a kind of despotism and in conflict with republican rule, the latter ruling through representation, the former not. As Eberl and Niesen stress, this means that when it comes to the question of declaring war, where the Doctrine gives the citizens the right to decide about “every particular declaration of war” through “its representatives” [dr 6:345 (§ 55)], this cannot be considered an example of proper republican legislation; on the contrary, letting the people decide democratically about such particular issues would be despotic in Kant’s wording.85

Many modern commentators have therefore struggled with Kant’s explicit stand against democracy,86 and a common strategy has been simply to historicize Kant and claim that what today is called democratic is more or less equivalent to what Kant called republican.87 Hence, Kant allegedly thought of democracy as Athenian rule by the popular assembly, thus agreeing with the classical criticism that such an assembly is too vulnerable to whims and rhetoric and could degenerate into merely a crowd following the laws of mass psychology rather than those of reason. As such democracy would be, as Kant says, a political “non-form” [pp 8:353].

Gerhard, however, argues that in the Doctrine Kant used the word democracy in a more affirmative and modern sense, speaking of a “democratic association” [dr 6:341 (§ 52)] that makes it possible to construct the idea of a republican, and thus representative, democracy.88 Moreover, understanding republic and democracy as equivalent was already commonplace during the French revolution, just as the idea of a representative democracy was discussed at that time, for instance by Condorcet.89 Even though there is also a discussion about what Kant meant by ‘representation,’90 it is by no means certain that Kant was against democracy as he understood it. Rousseau, Kant’s hero,91 distinguished clearly in The Social Contract between democratic government in a broad sense constituted by “the majority of the people”92 and the “true democracy” that have never existed and never will exist, since “one cannot imagine the people constantly assembled to consider public affairs.”93

Delimiting democracy by the qualification ‘true’ or ‘in its proper sense’ would enable Kant, once again, to hide behind ambiguity and obscure his radical adherence to the French cause. Hence, the revolution gradually took a still more openly democratic turn, being brought to its culmination in 1793 by the Jacobin republican constitution granting, for the first time in history, men universal suffrage regardless of their economic situation. With reference to Kant’s Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason from 1793 [see rel 6:102], Faustino Oncina stresses that for Kant democracy, enlightenment and Jacobism almost became “synonyms.”94 Thus, instead of the radical Jacobism possibly implied by discussing politics in terms of democracy, in Toward Perpetual Peace Kant chose to emphasize the idea of the republic. Still, that must be considered a rather risky strategy, given the fact that France only became a republic by the constitution of 1793.

For Kant the criteria for a republican constitution are three: “exterior (legal)” freedom, equality, and dependency that specify and unite three aspects of the ideal societal life. Again we find Kant placing crucial arguments in a long footnote, demonstrating clearly that hereditary nobility could not expect mercy from republican rule, thus claiming the freedom “to obey no other external law than those to which I would have been able to give my assent” [pp 8:350]. Hence, as “human beings [Menchen]” [pp 8:349] we are free, as citizens we are equal in relation to law, and as subjects we are dependent of a “common legislation” [pp 8:350]. However, as Wolfgang Kersting argues, this third criterion seems to apply to any constitution and thus leaves the republican constitution underdetermined,95 and much discussion has therefore been aroused by this third criterion. In general, acknowledging Kant’s “republican militancy,”96 most commentators agree that the ideals of Kant were those of the French republic, i.e. freedom, equality, and fraternity;97 the question is only why he did not say so, and if by not saying so, he said something else.

Both in “On the Common Saying” from 1793 and in the Doctrine Kant described the three criteria as freedom, equality, and independence [see cs 8:290 and dr 6:314], specifying the latter criterion in 1793 as that of a citizen as a “co-legislator” and a “part of a community,” i.e. not a “bourgeois,” but a “protective comrade” [cs 8:294], thus implying brotherhood and fraternity. The transformation of this third criterion is therefore indeed remarkable,98 and for Gerhard the implication must be that Kant’s republicanism rests on four pillars, not three, i.e. freedom and equality in relation to law, independence as a societal being, and dependence of a political body.99 In contrast, Eberl and Niesen argue that substituting independence with dependency makes it possible for Kant to become a real democratic republican and include all citizens in the decision process, both those with property and those without, women as well as workers. They are all part of the democratic constituency when the decision is about whether or not to declare a war.100 Being sympathetic to the arguments of Williams, Eberl, and Niesen, still one can also consider it as yet another example of escaping censorship by obscuring the allegiance to the French republic.101 Again, supplementing the internal reconstruction with an external explanation confirms Kant to be a radical, although cautious, thinker.

Be that as it may, one may even argue that this does not really matter.102 Still, one final matter merits attention, namely the discussion of the so-called democracy peace thesis. This idea clearly assumes a democratic interpretation of the Kantian argument, namely that people at large would resist the temptations of war. Hence, in political science it has been claimed as a matter of fact that democracies are more peaceful than non-democracies.103 However, the alleged peacefulness of democracies does not simply rely on leaving decisions to the people at large. Today, as Jacobsen stresses, the argument typically is made with reference to the so-called Kantian tripod where the legs are three: democratic norms and cultures, institutional constraints and international trade, and interdependence.104 As Michael W. Doyle argues, the crucial distinction is between liberal and non-liberal states, since it is only in the relations within the former that one can detect empirically a tendency towards peace. As he puts it: “A separate peace exists among liberal states.”105 His hope is thus that the growing number of liberal democracies will ultimately lead to global peace.

However, it has also been pointed out that the peacefulness of liberal democracies among themselves seems to be accompanied by aggressiveness toward non-democracies as rogue states or outlaws.106 This brings up again the discussion about the ban on state intervention raised above by the fifth preliminary article, since it can be argued that for Kant only republican statehood gives the right to peace; a so-called failed state is merely a territory returned to the state of nature, and as argued above, according to Kant a republican state has the right to coerce a neighboring territory into constitutional legality. Still, as Eberl and Niesen call attention to,107 also this kind of conflict would fall under the un Charter banning “the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state” (§ 2.4). Whatever the foundation of the democracy peace thesis, employing a strong distinction between liberal and non-liberal states, or democracies and non-democracies, may therefore not be conducive to peace; in fact, the contrary may even be the case. As I have argued elsewhere,108 by adopting a similar line of thought John Rawls revives the idea of just war, and thus justified and legitimate, wars will of course be waged with increased frequency. The idea of just war is precisely what Kant wanted to undermine, and this happens especially in the second definitive article.

Law of Peoples

Kant’s peace project rests primarily on three constitutive elements of public law, i.e. state law, law of peoples, and world citizen law. No doubt the first element, i.e. claiming republicanism, must have been the most controversial in the Prussian context of that time, and, as I have tried to argue, of the ambiguities encountered in Kant’s argument, at least some can be interpreted as attempts to avoid censorship and further repercussions. The second element gives specifications on international relations through the law of peoples, and here one must expect the controversies to be less. Hence, the main claim is that the law of peoples shall be based on a federalism of free states, and this poses little threat to a ruling monarch. Of course, there are discussions among commentators regarding Kant’s position, since also in this case there are differences from the Doctrine and “On the Common Saying”, just as there are apparent inconsistencies or conflict internally in Toward Perpetual Peace; but most of these issues can be discussed without having to resort to assuming the instrumental or strategic rationality of the honorable author.

The argument of the second definitive article can be reconstructed to demonstrate a rather simple logic. As Kant argues, we already have the idea of a law of peoples that presupposes sovereign states. It is true that traditional law of peoples supports the right to wage wars, and thus testifies to the evil of human beings; but the mere fact that it is considered necessary to justify aggression in terms of rights or law bears witness to our propensity to become good. As neighbors, states cannot demand of each other to give up their freedom, since as states they have already established state law and thus acquired the right to self-determination. Without violating this condition of autonomy, however, peace-loving states can establish a federation or a league, and constitutional republics, being by their nature prone to perpetual peace as exemplified by the French republican constitution of 1793, will form the nucleus of a peace federation that will expand as more such republics are established. As reason condemns war as a way to demand one’s right, peace becomes a duty, and part of this duty is to develop the law of peoples in the direction just sketched. Ultimately, Kant says, one cannot conceive of a law of peoples “as a right to war” [pp 8:356].

Obviously, there is a close relation between this argument and the fifth preliminary article discussed above, especially when it comes to the right to coerce one’s neighbors into a juridical state, and comments in relation to the articles have been numerous. One problem is the abovementioned discrepancies between Toward Perpetual War and the Doctrine, but in general Kant’s rejection of the idea of just war, and thus the legitimacy of waging wars per se, has only spurred few serious interpretational controversies. What has gained renewed urgency is the question of just war itself, and often Kant is used to back up the arguments.

In spite of the law of peoples institutionalized in the un, of course one cannot take for granted that the legality of the law of peoples gets the final word in international politics. Many have been the cases where the legitimacy of human rights have been used to challenge the general prohibition to wage war, distinguishing, as mentioned, between a liberal democratic or decent state on the one side, and outlaw or rogue states on the other, the latter by their nature having no right to live in peace.109 Hence, Kant’s Doctrine has been used to argue the right to wage preventive war,110 and, as mentioned, he is also used to argue the legitimacy of armed interventions.111 Many of these discussions, however, make wreck of the Kantian peace project, taking him as hostage for various bellicose agendas, and they only merit attention because of their political influence, not their scholarly content. As Georg Geismann remarks, some of these authors “seem to mistake Kant for John Wayne.”112

What does merit attention is one of the issues discussed mostly, namely what Kant ultimately would say about a possible world republic, i.e. whether he would argue for or against it. The problem is of course that Kant at various places formulates positions that seem contradictory. Hence, in Toward Perpetual Peace apparently the argument for a federative basis of the law of peoples is first of all an analytical point, thus pointing out that the very idea of a law of peoples presupposes more people and states. There would be no law of peoples at all, if all people would “melt together in one state” [pp 8:354]. Or, put in another way, if there was only one global state, we would need only state law, neither law of peoples, nor of world citizens.

The analytical argument seems to be supported by various remarks by Kant, and in the literature it is common to emphasize the voluntary character of the league of states.113 Kleingeld emphasizes that the idea of a loose league is argued for the first time in Toward Perpetual Peace,114 and in the Doctrine, rather than a world state, Kant seems to recommend a “permanent state congress” [dr 6:350 (§ 61)] dedicated to peace. League and congress being both characterized as dissolvable,115 Hruschka nevertheless stresses the difference, the latter thus being a first diplomatic step to realize the former.116 However, as Eberl and Niesen emphasize, by itself, organizing in this way provides publicity and legal regulation, i.e. public law,117 and as Byrd and Hruschka stress, “the state of peace is identical to the juridical state.”118

However, by the end of the second definitive article, Kant nevertheless claims that reason tells us to form a “people’s state” that ultimately must include “all people on earth.” The “world republic” is therefore affirmed as a “positive idea” [pp 8:357], whereas the “league [Bund]” is characterized as merely a “negative surrogate” to prevent war and “hostile inclinations” [pp 8:357]. To this can be added earlier Kantian remarks, e.g. in Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Aim published in 1784, that the goal is an all-encompassing “future big state body” [iuh 8:28] that will terminate all wars, and similarly in “On the Common Saying” where he argues for a global “people’s state,” both that it “ought to be” and that it “can be” “(in praxi)” [cs 8:313].

Crucial in this controversy is Kant’s final claim that the idea of the world republic is “in thesi right,” but still must be “rejected in hypothesi” [pp 8:357]. Most commentators understand this as a distinction equivalent to the one between theory and practice,119 thus indicating that the idea of the world republic should be given up as a practical political goal. However, referring to the conclusion of the Doctrine, Eberl and Niesen argue that, just as today, for Kant a “hypothesis” is a subjective assumption that can be made “in theoretical or in practical respect” [dr 6:354]. The point is that, as an actor, a state cannot have a duty to employ the idea of a world republic as the practical assumption for its politics, since this would mean its dissolution as a state. Hence, the state must reject the world republic as a hypothesis, in theory as well as in practice, but still it may be held true as an idea of reason by other actors,120 e.g. world citizens.

Kant thus recognizes that we cannot expect states to simply wither away, as it was famously presupposed by one of Kant’s revolutionary successors, but that does not imply that we must reject the idea of a world republic per se. Hence, when it comes to positing the world state as the final goal of humanity’s political development, Geisman argues that there is no real difference or change of mind in any of Kant’s writings on law and right between 1784 and 1798.121 The foundation of a global republican people’s state is the necessary last step for achieving perpetual peace.122 The only difference is that in the peace treatise, Kant emphasizes what has to be done given the political realities, especially in the preliminary articles and the second definitive article.123

Hence, one can maintain an interpretation where a global republican people’s state, as an idea of reason, is the goal of history, while recognizing at the same time that Kant, even if the article is called definitive, nevertheless argues for a political process where state federalism is the primary means to reach this final goal, i.e. the republican world state. This interpretation confirms Gerhard’s general understanding of Toward Perpetual Peace, stressing its strongly political character.124 When interpreting this idea, however, one must bear in mind the fact that a state is already established as autonomous when entering into the federation, i.e. that state law is already established and therefore that the dissolution of the state would mean an irreparable loss,125 or at least putting the legal achievements at risk.126 According to Geismann, state dissolution cannot be lawful.127 Moreover, as Kleingeld reads Kant, a state fusion without the consent of the people would be despotic.128 One can therefore argue that the positive idea of reason must be understood as a “federative world republic,”129 just as this is the final goal of history, thus recognizing as valuable the cultural and linguistic diversity of people, as Kant also does in the first supplement [see pp 8:367].

Entering into this controversy, Corradetti in his contribution discusses what is also known as Kant’s sovereignty dilemma, i.e. how the three species of public law relate to each other. Habermas has argued that the problem is Kant’s Rousseauian concept of popular sovereignty as an indivisible unity,130 and instead he has suggested a pluralist concept of sovereignty. Following this lead Jacobsen has called attention to the multi-layer sovereignty presupposed in medieval feudalism.131 Höffe, however, has made a case for interpreting the Kantian world republic as itself a multi-layer “republic of republics,”132 i.e. a “secondary state” that is only a “minimal state.”133 Such a “state state” only demands transference of specific parts of sovereignty in relation to the “self-determination of the individual states,”134 and, as Kant himself emphasizes, for such a “peace league” the goal is not power for itself, but to “maintain and secure the freedom” [pp 8:356] of the member states.

Corradetti recognizes the dilemma by stressing that for Kant all law must be enforceable, which implies the recognition of coercion as both possible, and possibly legitimate, within a state as well as beyond it. By implication, the league therefore cannot be completely voluntary. He therefore suggests dissolving the dilemma by understanding Kant as allowing for the possibility of conditional delegation of authority to a trans- or supra state body, adding that, in general, all species of public law approximate peace as a regulative idea. In the end, it is thus possible to argue that already for Kant the citizen of the state is also, at the same time, a citizen of the world.135

World Citizen Law

The third definitive article presents the third of the legal elements that together are considered necessary to achieve perpetual peace, namely the legal regulation of relations between states and human beings that are citizens of other states or not citizens at all. As Kleingeld specifies, it is about the rights and duties of human beings as well as of states.136 This third species of law Kant calls the ‘world citizen law.’ Today it is widely discussed under the title ‘cosmopolitan law,’ and often it is recognized as an important conceptual innovation by Kant.137 However, as Byrd and Hruschka mention, this translation is “somewhat misleading,”138 and I have myself argued for skipping it, recognizing the fact that Kant by using the term ‘citizen’ stresses that his global agenda is a political and legal project, whereas the term ‘cosmopolitan’ rather has moral and ethical connotations. In fact, in “On the Common Saying” Kant himself distinguishes between cosmopolitanism as a general philanthropic view and a “constitution of the world citizen” [cs 8:307], and the distinction between philanthropy and law is confirmed in the first sentence of the third definitive article of the peace treatise [see pp 8:357].139

Up until the bicentenary of Kant’s peace project, however, this species of law was often considered of only marginal importance,140 and in the Kant-literature the third article was seldom discussed in detail.141 As Gerhard argues, however, arguing for this third species of law testifies to Kant’s pluralist agenda. Hence, if the federation was only a temporary step on the way to realizing the world republic or the people’s state, then there would in the end be no difference between state citizen and world citizen, and then the last two species of law would be superfluous. Geismann thus conceives of the world citizen law as only temporary, i.e. only relevant until the realization of the world republic.142 However, as mentioned, Kant is careful to specify the necessity of all three species of law, and this adds weight to the interpretation of the world republic as a federation or a union rather than a fusion. This also, however, leaves open in what sense Kant is talking about law. Law is supposed to be enforceable, thus requiring executive power, which is already a problem in relation to the law of peoples and even more the case in relation to the world citizen law.

When it comes to this third species of law, Kant himself stresses the importance of restricting the scope, stating at the outset that the right of the world citizen is defined as merely the general right to hospitality. This modest right is further limited to only a right to visit, not to be a guest, i.e. one has no right to become part of the household. One can, however, only reject someone when it does not threaten his or her life, and it is prohibited to treat with hostility someone who “remains in peace” [pp 8:358]. Kant’s examples are marooned sailors and traveling merchants whom he grants the right to attempt interaction with local inhabitants without having to fear for their life. As Eberl and Niesen conclude, it is the right of a newcomer to communicate upon arrival in peace, be that out of need or curiosity, or out of commercial interest. One can even say that world citizen law grants everybody the right to offer further communication, be that economic, social, cultural, or political. Since it is a right, the reasons for this offer are not important, and neither is whether the offer is voluntary or not.143

Discussing the normative basis of the right of the world citizen, Eberl and Niesen distinguish between three possible sources, namely the basic human rights of a person, the political or legal rights of a citizen in a world state, or that we are all living on the surface of one and the same earth. As Kant mentions, “originally no one has more right to be at a certain place on earth than anyone else”; “the right to the surface […] belongs to the human race in common” [pp 8:358].144 Hence, we are all earthlings, and the earth being limited in size, as times goes by, space thus becomes increasingly scarce, and we must have a right to approach each other in peace. Again, as law must be enforceable, at the local level we need a state, ideally with a republican constitution, and beyond the local states the law of peoples must be anchored in, at least, a permanent state congress or a league, at best a federative world republic. As these are the only imaginable possibilities when it comes to the executive institutions, world citizen law must be included in the constitution and the state legislation. That is the only way to secure stranded sailors, refugees, and other vulnerable people on the move a long way from home.

The world citizen law may be seen as a response to the problem caused by dividing up what was originally given in common, i.e. the problem stemming from state borders and private property.145 As modest as it may appear, still the law of the world citizen has some unintended consequences. Hence, as long as one is peaceful, according to Kant one can apparently stay indefinitely, and Kant’s formulation of the right to hospitality has been regarded as a precedent for the right to asylum in the 1951 Geneva Convention on the Status of Refugees.146 However, as I have argued elsewhere,147 this seems to leave over to the visitor the decision about how long to stay after first arriving, and then it becomes hard to uphold the cherished distinction between the visitor and the guest. As far as I can tell, Kant does not recognize the questions raised by this ambiguity, and only few commentators make remarks about it.148 Höffe clarifies the matter by distinguishing between “visiting rights” and the “right to hospitality,”149 but so far few commentators have discussed the possible conflict in detail.

It was, however, precisely this ambiguity that came up recently when Germany suddenly received hundreds of thousands of refugees, i.e. do refugees have a right to stay or are they only allowed to visit temporally in order to seek refuge because of acute safety problems? This question Niesen takes as the point of departure in his contribution to the present compilation. In the article Niesen wants to make sense of cosmopolitan law and right, giving an outline of the systematic interpretative and conceptual work that would have to be done in order to answer this question. Assuming this cosmopolitan right to be a natural right, he asks what kinds of transformations such cosmopolitan right would have to undergo to form a legitimate part of public international law, in parallel to Kant’s move from provisional private law to peremptory public law in the Doctrine. Just as was the case with the Kantian law of peoples, the ambition in relation to cosmopolitan law must be to transform the international state of nature to an institutionalized international legal condition.

Relevant in this connection is also that the article on the world citizen law comprises Kant’s severe criticism of European colonial practice, thus mistaking the right to visit with the right to “conquer” and “suppress the natives” [pp 8:358]. Hence, as Klaus Dicke has argued, for Kant the world citizen law functions as a standard of political critique.150 Kant forcefully argues for the right of states such as China and Japan to refuse the entry of visitors that could be suspected of such intentions, thus indicating that the right of the world citizen, as much as it may be rooted in our original common possession of the global surface, is not absolute in relation to state sovereignty.

Colonialism raises the question of who has the right to a given territory, and therefore Niesen considers the legitimacy of different types of territorial acquisition. When it comes to refugees the question is not just under what legal obligation an already established state is to receive them, but also if they can be refused settlement, i.e. if they have a right to acquire a place to live. Niesen suggests as part of the answer that states can be obliged to remove obstacles to free movement, and that historical injustices, as well as retributive and distributive justice, are factors that must be considered, but in conclusion he refrains from providing a definitive answer.

As Milstein argues in his contribution, such inconclusiveness is a virtue. Hence, what is important in Kant’s cosmopolitanism is rather an open-ended method than a fully developed definitive theory. Beneath the more explicitly normative prescriptions for achieving perpetual peace, he detects what he calls a ‘cosmopolitical method,’ namely that we can use our own reason to reflect upon our historical situation and the challenges we face. Central to this method is Kant’s idea of a reflective judgment developed especially in the third Critique, mediating between the phenomenal and noumenal, nature and freedom, theoretical understanding, and practical reason. To understand Kant’s concept of law and right, he looks into the concept of community that is based on reciprocity and interaction, arriving at Kant’s idea of commercium as the totality of offerings to engage in dealings with others.

Commercium is the interaction between human beings who share the earth in common, and this is for Milstein the original cosmopolitical level of human relations. This is what makes law and right necessary at a global scale beyond what is provided by the law of peoples. This is what necessitates the world citizen law. Moreover, adding teleological judgment to the cosmopolitical method makes it possible for Kant to incorporate his arguments from both philosophy of history and philosophical anthropology to support the peace project, and this method Milstein finally suggests as proper for analyzing, not just today’s global capitalism and environmental degradation, but also problems on a global scale still not detected.

Interestingly, however, Byrd and Hruschka have argued that in the Doctrine the law of the world citizens does not consider the right of individuals in interaction, only of peoples. Moreover, the law can still be said to proclaim a right to communication, but it is clearly the communication that takes place when interacting in commercial markets that is meant. As they conclude, “cosmopolitan law in the Doctrine […] deals with the international market.”151 This brings us to an issue much discussed in Toward Perpetual Peace, namely the so-called guarantee of perpetual peace, added as a first supplement to the main sections. This is where Kant argues for the important role played by international trade in his peace project.

IV The Addenda

Again we are reminded of Kant’s choice of literary form in Toward Perpetual Peace and the irony he demonstrates. After having completed the preliminary conditions and the definitive terms of the peace treaty, the remainder in such an agreement is an addition about how to realize the peace agreed upon. Hence, adding a guarantee in a supplement is typical of a regular peace treaty of that period, thus stating those powers that stand behind the treaty in question,152 and in this case Kant invokes the greatest power of all, i.e. nature. This is followed by a second supplement, namely the already mentioned secret clause on publicity. Finally we get an appendix, discussing the relation between morality and politics in this perspective. As mentioned, although the addenda occupy much more space than the main sections, much fewer commentators have analyzed and discussed them, and therefore fewer interpretational controversies have occurred. Still, I will comment a little on the first supplement before finally turning to the appendix that is discussed in the contribution by Nielsen. The possible role of the second supplement has been dealt with above.

The Guarantee

The power guaranteeing peace is nature itself and its inherent purposiveness that Kant proposes to consider in “analogy” with “human artistic action” [pp 8:362], thus employing teleological judgment to strengthen the argument for the realization of peace. As Gerhard argues, only teleological thinking can unite nature, history, and politics.153 However, as Eberl and Niesen point out, it is only by analogy, and the purpose of nature can only be assumed in a practical sense, not theoretically. The guarantee is not provided by nature independently of human action, but by the interpretation of nature that gives us reason to believe that human efforts can be successful in a practical sense. Establishing peace as a global state of law is thus interpreted as a practical duty, because it can be argued to be within human possibilities, i.e. within the possibilities of nature, history, and politics, not because peace as an idea of reason can be proved theoretically.154

Nature’s contribution to the realization of peace is threefold, namely that it has made it possible for human beings to live all over the world, that through war it has forced people to live even in the most remote and desolate corners of the world, and, finally and most importantly, that nature has also compelled people to enter into “more or less legal relations with each other” [pp 8:363]. The first two points are argued with reference to ethnographical and historical knowledge, emphasizing, firstly, that war seems to be part of “human nature” [pp 8:365], and, secondly, that trade follows up on the distribution of resources already provided by nature, but that such interaction furthermore brings “understanding, community and peaceful relations” [pp 8:364].

The history of humanity thus having a direction, i.e. to realize humanity as such, as Wood has emphasized, Kant clearly thinks that history had reached a critical point with the French revolution, namely that the positive effects of war had been surpassed by what could be achieved by a republican peace league.155 In general one can thus argue that for Kant humanity has reached maturity, reason now being able to liberate itself from nature and to legislate for itself, human beings no longer being subject to the patronage of nature, but themselves now in authority.156

Hence, when it comes to the third point, i.e. how nature will make people submit to the legal coercion of the state of law, Kant argues at three levels, i.e. state law, law of peoples, and world citizen law. At the lowest level, the point is quite clear in its Hobbesian logic. Kant simply points to the insecurity caused by inner strife or the threat of war as sufficient grounds for establishing a state. Furthermore, knowing human nature to be asocial sociality [see iuh 8:20], state constitution and legislation must be made so as to make the destructiveness of people’s selfish inclinations counteract and counterbalance each other, coercing the individual human being to become, if not a “morally good human being,” then at least a “good citizen.” As he famously argues, a republic does not presuppose angels; the problem of organizing the state can be solved even by a “people of devils” [pp 8:366].

Regarding the law of peoples, apparently for Kant this does not in itself provide much argument for how states may be forced by nature to enter into a legal regulation of their relations.157 He confirms that the law of peoples presupposes different states, and although they will be in a state of war if not in a federative association, this is to be preferred to the overwhelming power and “soulless despotism” of a “universal monarchy.” As Brandt shows, this latter positon was in fact argued at Kant’s time,158 and Kant’s answer is therefore to be taken seriously, namely that fortunately nature makes people differentiate themselves through “languages and religion” generating “hate” and “war” [pp 8:367]. As Brandt stresses, for Kant both nature and society develops its dynamics progressively through antagonisms, locally as well as globally.159

Hence, for Kant nature has “wisely” separated people, but at the level of world citizen law nature also stimulates their unification. Thus, by increasing interaction, Kant believes that people will be led to peace by “culture” and “greater unanimity in principles” [pp 8:367]. Furthermore, there is the famous “spirit of trade that cannot coexist with war and that sooner or later takes hold of every people,” i.e. the “power of money” [pp 8:368]. As it has been demonstrated, the inspiration clearly must come from Montesquieu who in The Spirit of the Laws argues for peaceful effects of commerce.160 Trade thus brings people together, and interacting means relating and adjusting. Hence, as Monique Castillo has put it, Kant’s solution is “less economic than cultural, less liberal than republican.”161

Interestingly, however, in the Critique of Judgement, i.e. only a few years before the peace treatise, Kant thought of prolonged peace and trade as fostering “self-interest, cowardice and weakness” [cj 5:263],162 thus debasing the spirit of people. Moreover, as I myself have argued, one can question the very idea of trade as generating peace,163 and it has even been argued that without some specification, promoting in general the spirt of trade may even stimulate war.164 However, as mentioned above, trade presupposes the recognition of a metaphysical concept of property, and as Alain Boyer emphasizes, the recognition of such a concept transforms the stranger into a merchant, i.e. somebody who is not just a potential enemy, but somebody legally in possession of interesting goods that can be traded.165 In this sense, the metaphysics of law and right is what transforms hostility into hospitality.166 Hence, in Toward Perpetual Peace there is no doubt that “nature guaranties through the mechanism of human inclination perpetual peace.” It may be only in a “practical perspective” [pp 8:368], but this is sufficient to make it a duty to pursue perpetual peace, even though we cannot know the future in a theoretical sense.

Morality and Politics

The appendix on the relationship between morality and politics is by far the longest part of the book, and this may be taken as an acknowledgement by Kant that, of course, one must discuss in detail the ideal state of law longed for in relation to the realities of politics. The supplement discusses the contribution of nature to realizing perpetual peace, and now it is time to consider the contribution of politics. One reason for the lack of comments in the literature on this discussion is no doubt that it presupposes some knowledge of not just the Doctrine, where the full title would be rather The Metaphysical Introduction to the Doctrine of Right, but also of the second part of Metaphysics of Morals, namely the corresponding Metaphysical Introduction to the Doctrine of Virtue, and as mentioned in the introduction, such knowledge was until recently rather scarce. Hence, the basic term ‘morality’ covers two types of rules and duties given unconditionally for human beings as creatures of reason, namely those of virtue and those of law or right [see mm 6:214–17]. Law is about external relations between human beings, whereas virtue concerns the interior, be that in relation to freedom, duties, legislation, motivation, sanctions, etc. However, as Gerhard emphasizes with reference to the second Critique, as human beings we are not only reasonable beings, and that is the reason we consider morality at all, i.e. both law and virtue.167

Politics deals with matters of the state, and in Toward Perpetual Peace Kant insists that politics has a “moral task” [pp 8:377], namely to bring about perpetual peace. As Castillo has emphasized, bringing morality and politics into harmony and realizing perpetual peace is “one and the same goal.”168 As such, politics has the same goal as the Doctrine of Law (i.e. Right) and can be regarded as “applied doctrine of law” [pp 8:370]. Still, Kant also insists that politics is a “difficult art” [pp 8:380] and that it therefore requires special talents and capacities, i.e. both craftsmanship and, as Gerhard emphasizes, “judgement.”169 This being the case, Kant can therefore construct two figures, the “moral politician” and the “political moralist” [pp 8:377], the former acting according to natural law, the latter merely adjusting instrumentally morality to political necessities, and in the first part of the appendix, this political perspective makes relevant various objections to the idea that perpetual peace is a possible, i.e. conceivable and empirically realistic end.

Nielsen’s contribution to the present compilation focuses on the most important of these objections; the claim that human nature somehow invalidates the normative conception of perpetual peace developed and presented in the two main sections of Toward Perpetual Peace. Kant’s discussion of this objection takes the form of a debate with an imaginary opponent, the practitioner or the “practical man.” According to the practical man, perpetual peace is a both conceivable and desirable political end, but human nature prevents us from ever realizing this ideal end. Hence, normative concepts such as “the rights and laws of states, peoples and world citizens” are too uncertain to serve as a foundation for real “state prudence” [pp 8:371–72].

The practical man’s attempt to describe political practice in purely non-normative terms is, Kant believes, necessarily self-undermining because it denies one of the most basic aspects of human life, namely the inherent and inescapable normativity of practical reason. As Nielsen stresses, human beings are rational creatures, and as such they are necessarily exposed to and responsive towards the normative demands of pure reason. The practical man’s objections, Kant argues, are based on a mistaken view of human nature, which is phenomenologically implausible and practically inconsistent. As Kant concludes, “objectively (in theory)” there is no conflict between morality and politics; “subjectively,” however, there will always be attempts to “justify the weaknesses of human nature” [pp 8:379].


A final comment goes to the second part of the appendix where we find Kant’s argument for “publicity” as the “transcendental formula” [pp 8:381], first for law and ultimately, in a revised version, for both “law and politics” [pp 8:386]. As Wolfgang Röd has argued, Kant clearly extends the scope of transcendental philosophy to morality, law, and politics;170 considering his philosophy of law pre-critical would therefore be a serious misunderstanding. When it comes to the argument about publicity, the premise is simple, namely that when abstracting content from public law, only the form is left – and that is “publicity.” There is no justice that cannot be announced in public, and if the maxim of an action cannot be made public, it cannot serve as a law, and that holds for both “state law and law of peoples” [pp 8:381]. The examples are structured according to the tripartite structure of law, and especially the first example has caused some uproar. Kant thus argues that the principle of publicity is exemplified by the prohibition to revolt, this being “unlawful,” “since the publication of the intention would make one’s aim impossible” [pp 8:382].

This argument has not been considered very convincing in itself,171 and Adela Cortina speaks out for many commentators when she concludes that whereas Kant in his ethics is “revolutionary,” in politics he is both authoritarian and “conservative.”172 I will, however, allow myself to recur to some of the external considerations discussed initially, reminding about the possible benefits of this stand in relation to the censorship. Furthermore, again we can also point to a productive ambiguity. Hence, Losurdo argues that the French revolution was in fact a reform, since the states that subsequently formed the national assembly were summoned by the king. By calling in the estates, the king had transferred, at least part of, his sovereignty and legislative power to the representatives of the people, and what Kant thus aims to prohibit by denying people the right to resist, are those counterrevolutionary uprisings that were instigated by the nobility and the clergy after the establishment of fully legitimate constitutional rule.173

Be that as it may, after some polemical remarks about the “duplicity of politics” [pp 8:385], Kant’s argument proceeds from stating the merely negative requirement regarding publicity as a necessary condition for law, to considering what would suffice positively as “the goal of the public” [pp 8:386]. The final formula thus states that “all maxims that require publicity (not to fail their aim) are in agreement with both politics and law” [pp 8:386].

Much more could be said about this, but this must have an end. As much as I myself engage in these matters, I do find it remarkable that today, after more than 200 years, Kant’s philosophical peace project is still found worth discussing in such detail, and this introduction is already too long. May the future make Kant’s honorable and realistic project irrelevant and redundant.

Drafts of the articles compiled in this special issue were originally presented and discussed at the seminar “Toward Perpetual Peace – politics, culture and education” that took place at the School of Education, Aarhus University, Campus Emdrup, November 20th 2015. Thanks to all those attending the seminar and participating in the discussions, to invited guests and local colleagues, among the latter especially Peter Kemp and Jørgen Huggler, as well as to all the students, and to the school management for funding the event. A special thanks to those distinguished colleagues who were so kind to review the articles before publication, i.e. Alice Pinheiro Walla, Allen Wood, Christoph Hanish, Oliver Eberl and Sune Frølund. For comments, corrections, and critique to this introduction, my gratitude goes to Mogens Chrom Jacobsen. Thanks finally also to Georg Geismann who, generously and in much detail, criticized, corrected, and commented on the reading of Kant in my articles on cosmopolitanism, just as he also subjected the present introduction to a final and very helpful scrutiny. Without all of these good people, the present compilation would merit much less interest.


See, e.g., Karl Vorländer, “Einleitung des Herausgebers,” in Immanuel Kant, Kleinere Schriften zur Geschichtsphilosophie, Ethik und Politik, ed. Karl Vorländer (Leipzig: Felix Meiner, 1922), xlii–xliii. When it comes to Danish translations, Toward Perpetual Peace has in fact been translated at least three times. The first translation referred to by Vorländer was published as Den evige fred. Et philosophiskt udkast (Kjøbenhavn: J.H. Schubothes Forlag, 1796), translated by “U. af R.” (according to the preface to the second translation). The second translation was also entitled Den evige fred (Fagerstrand pr. Høvik: Bibliotek for de tusen hjem, 1888), but translated and prefaced by Fredrik Bajer, who in 1908 received the Nobel peace prize. Finally, the third translation was entitled Til den evige fred (København: Gyldendal, 1995), this time with introduction and notes by the translator Mogens Chrom Jacobsen, and this edition was updated by Jacobsen and republished as an e-book by the publisher Sommer in 2015.


Otfried Höffe, Kant’s Cosmopolitan Theory of Law and Peace [2001], trans. Alexandra Newton (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 135–36.


See Volker Gerhardt, Immanuel Kants Entwurf >Zum ewigen Frieden<. Eine Theorie der Politik (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgeselleschaft, 1995), 27–31.


See, e.g., José Luis Villacañas Berlanga, “Hombre, historia y derecho en Kant,” in Ética y Antropología: un dilema kantiano, ed. Roberto R. Aramayo and Faustino Oncina (Granada: Comares, 1999), 199.


See Höffe, Kant’s Cosmopolitan Theory, 137.


All quotes from non-English sources are translated by the present author, although sometimes consulting available translations.


In German one discusses these issues in terms of ‘Recht’, and in Danish we have the equivalent ‘ret.’ When discussing the same issues in English, however, we must use, and distinguish between, at least two terms, namely ‘law’ and ‘right.’


See, e.g., Jørgen Jørgensen, Filosofiens udvikling i den nyere tid (København: Studenter-samfundets oplysningsformidling / Jespersen og Pio, 1931), 141; se also Justus Hartnack, ­"Indledning,” in Kant (De store tænkere), ed. by Hartnack (København: Berlingske, 1966), 11.


See, e.g., H.W. Cassirer, A Commentary on Kant’s Critique of Judgement [1938], (New York: Barnes & Noble, 1970), vii–viii.


See Poul Lübcke, “Filosofien i Tyskland efter Hegel,” in Vor tids filosofi [1982], ed. P. Lübcke (København: Politikens, 1994), 21.


Arthur Schopenhauer, Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung [1819/1844/1858] in Schopenhauer, Sämtliche Werke [1968], ed. Wolfgang Frhr. von Löhneysen (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2004), vol. i, 459 (fourth book, § 62); see also Höffe, Kant’s Cosmopolitan Theory, 4–5.


B. Sharon Byrd and Joachim Hruschka, Kant and Law (Ashgate, 2006), xiii.


See, e.g., Höffe, Kant’s Cosmopolitan Theory, 1; see also B. Sharon Byrd and Joachim Hruschka, Kant’s Doctrine of Right. A Commentary (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 16–17, the latter referring to Vorlesungsverzeichnisse der Universität Königsberg (1720–1804), ed. Michael Oberhausen and Riccardo Pozzo (Stuttgart / Bad Cannstatt: Frommann-Holzboog, 1999). Finally, see also Pauline Kleingeld, Kant and Cosmopolitanism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 45, 96 and Howard Williams, “Is Just War Theory Merely for Sorry Comforters?” Jahrbuch für Recht und Ethik 17 (2009): 198.


For references, see, e.g., Herman Klenner, “Kant’s Rechtsphilosophie in der Zeit,” in Immanuel Kant, Rechtslehre. Schriften zur Rechtsphilosophie, ed. Klenner (Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1988), 567–69.


See Kleingeld, Kant and Cosmopolitanism, 96–102, 107; see also Allen W. Wood, Kant’s Ethical Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 3–7.


See Kleingeld, Kant and Cosmopolitanism, 111.


See, e.g., Byrd and Hruschka, Kant’s Doctrine of Right, 13–15.


See Williams, “Is Just War Theory Merely for Sorry Comforters?”, 199.


See, e.g., Immanuel Kant, Toward Perpetual Peace and Other Writings on Politics, Peace, and History, ed. Pauline Kleingeld (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006) and Immanuel Kant, Zum ewigen Frieden, ed. Oliver Eberl and Peter Niesen (Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp, 2011).


See Höffe, Kant’s Cosmopolitan Theory, 8.


See, e.g., Steffen Dietzsch, Immanuel Kant. Eine Biographie (Leipzig: Reclam (license ed. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft), 2003), 68–70; see also Karl Vorländer, Immanuel Kant. Das Mann und das Werk [1924], 2nd ed. (Hamburg: Felix Meiner, 1977), vol. i, 143.


Karl Jaspers, “Kants ‘Zum ewigen Frieden’” [1957] in Jaspers, Philosophie und Welt (München: R. Piper & Co., 1958), 152.


See also Dominico Losurdo, Autocensura y compromiso en el pensamiento político de Kant [2007], translated from Italien by Guillermo Escolar Martín (Madrid: Escolar y Mayo, 2010), 210.


See also Losurdo, Autocensura y compromiso, 203 and Hans Saner, “Die negative Bedingungen des Friedens,” in Immanuel Kant: Zum ewigen Frieden, ed. Otfried Höffe (Berlin: Akademie, 1995), 47.


See Gerhardt, Immanuel Kants Entwurf >Zum ewigen Frieden<, 35–36.


See Oliver Eberl and Peter Niesen, “Kommentar,” in Immanuel Kant, Zum ewigen Frieden (Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp, 2011), 177.


See also Vorländer, “Einleitung des Herausgebers,” xxxvi.


See, e.g., Saner, “Die negative Bedingungen des Friedens,” 43–44 and Höffe, Kant’s Cosmopolitan Theory, 138.


See Saner, “Die negative Bedingungen des Friedens,” 44.


See, e.g., Gerhard, Immanuel Kants Entwurf, 126–30.


As Byrd and Hruschka stress, Kant does not mention this criterion at all in the Doctrine of Right (Byrd and Hruschka, Kant’s Doctrine of Right, 14).


See, e.g., Höffe, Kant’s Cosmopolitan Theory, 138.


Dietzsch, Immanuel Kant. Eine Biographie, 238.


See, e.g., Hartnack, “Indledning,” 9–11.


See, e.g., Dietzsch, Immanuel Kant, 246–52; see also Vorländer, Immanuel Kant, vol. ii, 192–209.


See, e.g., Vorländer, Immanuel Kant, vol. ii, 201–02.


Saner, “Die negative Bedingungen des Friedens,” 47.


Dietzsch, Immanuel Kant, 69.


See, e.g., Gerhard, Immanuel Kants Entwurf, 8.


See ibid., 40.


Ibid., 33.


For a political reading of the Critique of Pure Reason in this perspective, see Höffe, Kant’s Cosmopolitan Theory, Chapt. 12.


Reinhard Brandt, “Historisch-kritische Beobachtungen zu Kants Friedensschrift,” in »Zum ewigen Frieden«. Grundkagen, Aktualität und Aussichten einer Idee von Immanuel Kant, ed. Reinhard Merkel and Roland Wittman (Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp, 1996), 36.


See, e.g., Vorländer, Immanuel Kant, vol. 2, 214–15.


See Kleingeld, Kant and Cosmopolitanism, 164.


Losurdo, Autocensura y compromiso, 229.


Fichte, letter in J.G. Fichte, Briefwechsel, ed. H. Schulz (Leipzig: Haessel, 1930; facsimile Olms, Hildesheim, 1967), vol. ii, 105; here according to Losurdo, Autocensura y compromiso, 223.


Schelling, letter to Fichte of September 16th 1799 in Fichte, Briefwechsel, vol. ii, 166–68; here according to Losurdo, Autocensura y compromiso, 244.


See also Losurdo, ibid., 240–41.


See ibid., 236.


See Schelling’s letter to Hegel, February 4th 1795 in Briefe von und an Hegel, ed. J. Hoffmeister and F. Nicolin, 3rd ed. (Hamburg: Meiner, 1969–81), vol. i, 21; here according to Losurdo, Autocensura y compromiso, 243.


See Losurdo, ibid., 248–49.


See ibid., 227.


See, e.g., Eberl and Niesen, “Kommentar,” 127–28.


See Allen Wood, “Kants Entwurf für einen ewigen Frieden,” in »Zum ewigen Frieden«, ed. Merkel and Wittman, 79.


See, e.g., Saner, “Die negative Bedingungen des Friedens,” 48.


See, e.g., Eberl and Niesen, “Kommentar,” 178.


Ibid., 127.


See, e.g., ibid., 204–05.


Saner, “Die negative Bedingungen des Friedens,” 50.


See also ibid, 50–51.


See Gerhard, Immanuel Kants Entwurf, 42–43.


See, e.g., Losurdo, Autocensura y compromiso, 231.


See, e.g., Eberl and Niesen, “Kommentar,” 189.


See, e.g., ibid.


See Byrd and Hruschka, Kant’s Doctrine of Right, 15.


See ibid., 195.


See Williams, “Is Just War Theory Merely for Sorry Comforters?” 213.


See Eberl and Niesen, “Kommentar,” 98–99.


See ibid., 127.


See, e.g., Alyssa R. Bernstein, “Kant on Rights and Coercion in International Law: Implications for Humanitarian Military Intervention,” Jahrbuch für Recht und Ethik 16 (2008): 57–99 and Richard B. Lillich, “Kant und die debate über humanitäre Intervention im Völkerrecht der Gegenwart,” in Republik und Weltbürgerrescht, ed. Klaus Dicke and Klaus-Michael Kodalle (Weimar: Böhlau, 1998), 224.


See Höffe, Kant’s Cosmopolitan Theory, 152.


See, e.g., Otfried Höffe, “Völkerbund oder Weltrepublik,” in Immanuel Kant, ed. Höffe, 109; and Eberl and Niesen, “Kommentar,” 207.


See, e.g., Otfried Höffe, “Der Friede – ein vernachlässigtes Ideal,” in Immanuel Kant, ed. Höffe, 6 and Wolfgang Kersting, “‘Die Bürgerliche Verfassung…’,” in Immanuel Kant, ed. Höffe, 90.


See, e.g., Gerhard, Immanuel Kants Entwurf and Immanuel Kant, ed. Höffe. See also »Zum ewigen Frieden«, ed. Merkel and Wittman, Republik und Weltbürgerrecht, ed. Dicke and Kodalle, and Kant: la paz perpetua, doscientos años después, ed. Vicent Martínez Guzmán, (València: Nau llibres, 1997).


See, e.g., Eberl and Niesen, “Kommentar,” 329–57.


See, e.g., Kleingeld, Kant and Cosmopolitanism and Höffe, Kant’s Cosmopolitan Theory.


Höffe, Kant’s Cosmopolitan Theory, 178.


See Brandt, “Historisch-kritische Beobachtungen,” 40.


See Williams, “Is Just War Theory Merely for Sorry Comforters?” 218.


See, e.g., Kersting, “‘Die Bürgerliche Verfassung…’,” 95 and Gerhard, Immanuel Kants Entwurf, 88.


See Höffe, Kant’s Cosmopolitan Theory, 186–88.


Schlegel in Höffe, Kant’s Cosmopolitan Theory, 155.


See, e.g., Eberl and Niesen, “Kommentar,” 217.


See ibid., 226.


See, e.g., Vicente Dominigo García Marzá, “Républica y Democrácia en la Paz Perpetua. Un comentario desde la Teoría Democrática,” in Kant: la paz perpetua, ed. Guzmán, 83–84.


See, e.g., Kleingeld, Kant and Cosmopolitanism, 31 and Höffe, Kant’s Cosmopolitan Theory, 15.


See Gerhard, Immanuel Kants Entwurf, 89–90.


See, e.g., Raymonde Monnier, “«Démocratie représentative» ou «république democratique» : de la querelle des mots (République) à la querelle des anciens et des modernes,” Annales historiques de la Révolution française 325 (2004): 1–21.


See, e.g., Eberl and Niesen, “Kommentar,” 220–23.


See, e.g., Vorländer, Immanuel Kant, vol. 1, 148–51.


Jean-Jacques Rouseau, Du contrat social [1762] (Paris: Gallimard, 1964), 225 (Book iii, Chapter iii).


Ibid., 226 (Book iii, Chapter iv).


Faustino Oncina Coves, “Jacobismo y Kantismo: Johann Adam Bergk y la filosofía política del criticismo,” in Ética y Antropología, ed. Aramayo and Oncina, 263.


See Kersting, “‘Die Bürgerliche Verfassung…’,” 95.


Oncina, “Jacobismo y Kantismo,” 288.


See, e.g., Wood, Kant’s Ethical Thought, 335.


See, e.g., Eberl and Niesen, “Kommentar,” 213.


See Gerhard, Immanuel Kants Entwurf, 87.


See Eberl and Niesen, “Kommentar,” 229.


See, e.g., Losurdo, Autocensura y compromiso, 162; see also Vorländer, Immanuel Kant, vol. 2, 225.


See, e.g., Georg Geismann, Kant und kein Ende. Band 3. Pax Kantiana oder Der Rechtsweg zum Weltfrieden (Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2012), 97.


See, e.g., Eberl and Niesen, “Kommentar,” 329–31.


See Mogens Chrom Jacobsen, “Kant and the Modern State System,” Jahrbuch für Recht und Ethik 17, 2009: 95–96.


Michael W. Doyle, “Kant and Liberal Internationalism,” in Kant, Toward Perpetual Peace and Other Writings, ed. Kleingeld, 230.


See, e.g., Eberl and Niesen, “Kommentar,” 332.


See ibid., 334.


See Asger Sørensen, “The Law of Peoples in the Age of Empire: The Post-Modern Resurgence of the Ideology of Just War,” Journal of the Philosophy of International Law 6, no. 1 (2015): 19–37.


See, e.g., Eberl and Niesen, “Kommentar,” 336–37.


For examples and references, see, e.g., ibid., 343–46.


See, e.g., Alyssa R. Bernstein, “Kant, Rawls, and Cosmopolitanism,” Jahrbuch für Recht und Ethik 17 (2009): 49.


Geismann, Kant und kein Ende, 185.


See, e.g., Kleingeld, Kant and Cosmopolitanism, 70; Jacobsen, “Kant and the Modern State System,” 94; Höffe, “Völkerbund oder Weltrepublik,” 131; and Jürgen Habermas, “Hat die Konstitutionalisierung des Völkerrechts noch eine Chance?” in Habermas, Der gespaltene Westen (Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp, 2004), 142.


See Kleingeld, Kant and Cosmopolitanism, 48.


See Joachim Hruschka, “Völkerstaat, Völkerbund und der permanente Staatenkongreβ in Kants Rechtslehre,” in Hruschka, Kant und der Rechtsstaat (Freiburg/München: Karl Alber, 2015), 145–46.


See ibid., 150.


See Eberl and Niesen, “Kommentar,” 247.


Byrd and Hruschka, Kant’s Doctrine of Right, 214.


See, e.g., Kleingeld, “Notes,” in Kant, Toward Perpetual Peace and Other Writings, ed. Kleingeld, 81; Mogens Chrom Jacobsen, “Oversætterens noter,” in Kant, Til den evige fred, 101; Gerhard, Immanuel Kants Entwurf, 104; and Herman Klenner, “Anhang,” in Kant, Rechtslehre. ed. Klenner, 494 (note 251).


See Eberl and Niesen, “Kommentar,” 240–42.


See Geismann, Kant und kein Ende, 207.


See ibid., 178.


See ibid., 217.


See Gerhard, Immanuel Kants Entwurf, 104.


See Kleingeld, Kant and Cosmopolitanism, 47–49.


See Geismann, Kant und kein Ende, 176.


See ibid., 153.


Kleingeld, Kant and Cosmopolitanism, 55–57, 63.


Ibid., 49; see also Geismann, Kant und kein Ende, 204.


See Habermas, “Hat die Konstitutionalisierung des Völkerrechts noch eine Chance?” 126; see also my discussion of this Habermasian idea in relation to Michael Walzer and David Held in Asger Sørensen, “Cosmopolitan Democracy and the State. Reflections on the Need for ideals and imagination,” Journal of Constitutionalism & Human Rights 3–4, no. 8 (2015): 8–19.


See Jacobsen, “Kant and the Modern State System,” 107.


Höffe, “Völkerbund oder Weltrepublik,” 115.


Ibid., 116–17.


Ibid., 131.


See also Höffe, Kant’s Cosmopolitan Theory, 201.


See Kleingeld, Kant and Cosmopolitanism, 73.


See, e.g., Gerhard, Immanuel Kants Entwurf, 105–06 and Kleingeld, Kant and Cosmopolitanism, 73.


Byrd and Hruschka, Kant’s Doctrine of Right, 205.


See Asger Sørensen, “Cosmopolitanism – not a ‘major ideology’, but still an ideology,” ­Philosophy & Social Criticism 42, no. 2 (2016): 216–19.


See, e.g., Gerhard, Immanuel Kants Entwurf, 105.


See, e.g., Klaus Dicke, “Das Weltbürgerrecht soll auf Bedingungen der allgemeinen Hospitalität eingeschränkt sein,” in Republik und Weltbürgerrecht, ed. Dicke and Kodalle, 115 and Kleingeld, Kant and Cosmopolitanism.


See Geismann, Kant und kein Ende, 218.


See Eberl and Niesen, “Kommentar,” 250–53.


See ibid., 260.


See ibid., 264.


See, e.g., Robin May Schott, “Kant and Arendt on Hospitality,” Jahrbuch für Recht und Ethik 17 (2009): 186.


See Sørensen, “Cosmopolitanism,” 205–07.


See, e.g., Dicke, “Das Weltbürgerrecht soll auf Bedingungen der allgemeinen Hospitalität eingeschränkt sein,” 124.


Höffe, Kant’s Cosmopolitan Theory, 141.


See Dicke, “Das Weltbürgerrecht soll auf Bedingungen der allgemeinen Hospitalität eingeschränkt sein,” 121–22.


Byrd and Hruschka, Kant’s Doctrine of Right, 209.


See, e.g., Eberl and Niesen, “Kommentar,” 267.


See Gerhard, Immanuel Kants Entwurf, 115.


See Eberl and Niesen, “Kommentar,” 270–72.


See Wood, “Kants Entwurf für einen ewigen Frieden,” 75.


Ibid., 85.


See, e.g., Eberl and Niesen, “Kommentar,” 277.


See Reinhardt Brandt, “Vom Weltbürgerrecht,” in Immanuel Kant, ed. Höffe, 138.


See ibid., 141.


See Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws, Book 20, Chapter ii, quoted in Alain Boyer, “La guerre, le commerce et l’étranger. Remarques sur l’esprit de commerce et le cosmopolitisme chez Kant,” in Kant cosmopolitique, ed. Yves Charles Zarka and Caroline Guibet Lafaye (éditions de l’éclat: 2008), 126–27; see also Kleingeld, Kant and Cosmopolitanism, 135–36.


Monique Castillo, “Moral und Politik,” in Immanuel Kant, ed. Höffe, 218.


See Brandt, “Historisch-kritische Beobachtungen,” 32; see also Kleingeld, Kant and Cosmopolitanism, 134–35.


See Sørensen, “Cosmopolitanism,” 211–14.


See, e.g., Reimund Seidelmann, “Die Neuordning des europäischen Sicherheitssystems,” in Republik und Weltbürgerrescht, ed. Dicke and Kodalle, 160–62.


See Boyer, “La guerre, le commerce et l’étranger,” 130.


See, e.g., Yves Charles Zarka, “Cosmopolitisme et hospitalité chez Kant,” in Kant cosmopolitique, ed. Zarka and Lafaye, 28–29.


See Gerhard, Immanuel Kants Entwurf, 151.


Castillo, “Moral und Politik,” 201.


Gerhard, Immanuel Kants Entwurf, 159.


See Wolfgang Röd, “Die Rolle transzendentaler Prinzipien in Moral und Politik,” in »Zum ewigen Frieden«, ed. Merkel and Wittman, 138.


See, e.g., Gerhard, Immanuel Kants Entwurf, 200–202, Eberl and Niesen, “Kommentar,” 297–300 and Boyer, “La guerre, le commerce et l’étranger,” 123.


Adela Cortina, “La Paz en Kant: Ética y Politica,” in Kant: la paz perpetua, ed. Guzmán, 79.


See Losurdo, Autocensura y compromiso, 95–99.

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