Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 68 (1):77 - 99 (2006)

The paper questions a predilection of some proponents of the 'democratic peace thesis’ and of 'democratic cosmopolitanism' to base their peace policy recommendations on Kant's peace treatise. It argues that the concepts ' democracy' and 'cosmopolitanism' which they employ are unfaithful to Kant's republicanism, which entails strict state sovereignty, and hence, that their referral to Kant distorts the basic ideas that are exposed in his treatise. This applies in particular to their justification of humanitarian intervention and of pre-emptive action, practices to cope with imminent security threats, and humanitarian catastrophes respectively. Though the reasonableness of such practises, the justification of which presuppose a limited concept of sovereignty, suggests a reading which does not take On Perpetual Peace exclusively as a set of policy recommendations, to give preference to its philosophical outlook, as some philosophical-minded scholars propose as an alternative, does not satisfy either. For this would neglect the peculiar oscillation between the philosophical and the political aspects of the treatise. Contrary to current concerns to update the conceptual framework of On Perpetual Peace, of ' cosmopolitanism' in particular, to accommodate a limited form of sovereignty without allowing for interventions to ward off putative security threats, its salient irony, which mediates between both aspects, is in this paper taken as a clue to an interpretation which seeks to account for both of them
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