From 'perpetual peace' to 'the law of peoples': Kant, Habermas and Rawls on international relations

Kantian Review 6:60-84 (2002)
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It is hardly surprising that the two greatest Kantian philosophers of the twentieth century's second half would, at some point of time, reflect and comment on one of the most famous writings of the Königsberg sage, namely on Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch. Of course, in recent decades, and especially around the celebration of the 200th anniversary of its publication, many commentary articles and books have been published on Kant's little essay, but it makes a difference when Jürgen Habermas and John Rawls make an effort to get to an appropriate understanding of Kant's text in the present-day world. Here I will describe some of the main features of their understanding of Kant's peace proposal. I will first briefly recall the main scheme of Kant's essay, anticipating the writings of Habermas and Rawls by employing their new vocabularies and schemes in describing Kant's position. The main purpose of my outline of Kant's essay is to investigate how much of Kant's proposal has remained alive in Habermas and Rawls



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Thomas Mertens
Radboud University Nijmegen

References found in this work

The law of peoples.John Rawls - 1999 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Edited by John Rawls.
Political Liberalism.J. Rawls - 1995 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 57 (3):596-598.
Practical philosophy.Immanuel Kant - 1996 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Mary J. Gregor.

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