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Kantian perspectives on democratic peace: alternatives to Doyle

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 May 2001

Abstract

As for the philosophers, they make imaginary laws for imaginary commonwealths, and their discourses are as the stars, which give little light, because they are so high.

Francis Bacon

The article argues that Doyle's interpretation of Kant's first definitive article in Perpetual Peace is mistaken. I distinguish between Kant's pragmatic argument (his democratic peace proposition) and his a priori, or transcendental claim. Both are distinct from Doyle's approach which emphasizes institutional restraint and shared cultural norms. Doyle must be criticized for taking Kant's transcendental claims as statements that can be verified empirically. I propose that we drop Doyle's juxtaposition of liberal and illiberal as a fallacy of essentialism. Kant's distinction between republican and despotic is a methodological abstraction belonging to ideal theory (the system of rights). Kantian non-ideal theory (his political philosophy) sees the distinction among states as a matter of degree rather than kind. Kant favours an inclusive global federation encompassing liberal as well as non-liberal states, rather than an exclusive federation and ‘separate peace’ of liberal states.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 2001 British International Studies Association

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