Modern theorists often use Immanuel Kant's work to defend the normative primacy of human rights and the necessity of institutionally autonomous forms of global governance. However, properly understood, his law of nations describes a loose and noncoercive confederation of republican states. In this way, Kant steers a course between earlier natural lawyers such as Grotius, who defended just-war theory, and visions of a global unitary or federal state. This substantively mundane claim should not obscure a more profound contribution to the science of international law. Kant demonstrates that his concept of law forms part of a logical framework by which to ascertain the necessary institutional characteristics of the international legal order. Specifically, his view is that the international legal order can only take a noncoercive confederated form as its subjects become republican states and that in these circumstances law can exist without a global state. Put another way, Kant argues that if we get state-building right, the law of nations follows.