Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-768ffcd9cc-5rkl9 Total loading time: 0.407 Render date: 2022-12-07T07:45:10.140Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true

THE BATTLEFIELD OF METAPHYSICS: PERPETUAL PEACE REVISITED*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 December 2014

ADAM LEBOVITZ*
Affiliation:
Department of Government, Harvard University E-mail: lebovitz@fas.harvard.edu

Abstract

Basic questions about Kant's international theory remain unresolved, in part because the ambiguous language and sketchy blueprints given in Perpetual Peace lend themselves to a wide variety of interpretations. This essay proposes a novel solution for this difficulty: a careful reconsideration of the political concepts embedded in Kant's first philosophy. In the First Critique, the “Conflict of the Faculties,” and in particular his neglected essay “Perpetual Peace in Philosophy,” Kant repeatedly draws on the language of sovereignty, war, and international law, in order to describe how the critical philosophy will bring peace to what he terms the “battlefield of metaphysics.” The most striking feature of this program for “perpetual peace in philosophy” is that it does not end disagreement over ideas, but rather prevents it from becoming pathological by subjecting it to the “discipline” of critical reason. And I argue that Kant's proposal for global peace is precisely parallel: a sovereign world court that arbitrates decisively between states, while otherwise leaving them free to clash, compete, and disagree.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2014 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Footnotes

*

This paper was inspired by conversations over many years with Patrick Riley and Richard Tuck. I am grateful to participants in the Harvard Political Theory Workshop (2014) for their criticisms and suggestions. Particular thanks are due to Greg Conti, Micha Glaeser, Tae-Yeoun Keum, Michael Rosen, Nancy Rosenblum, James Schmidt, Patrick Riley, and the editors and reviewers at Modern Intellectual History, for their detailed written comments.

References

1 See, for instance, Flikschuh, Katrin, Kant and Modern Political Philosophy (Cambridge, 2000), 183–4CrossRefGoogle Scholar (attributing the rising prominence of Kantian cosmopolitanism to “changes in the practice of international relations, especially to the demise of the Cold War and the related acceleration of the process of globalisation”).

2 Cavallar, Georg, Kant and the Theory and Practice of International Law (Cardiff, 1999), 113Google Scholar.

3 Hinsley, F. H., Power and the Pursuit of Peace (Cambridge, 1963), 6280, 68Google Scholar. Cf. Rawls, John, The Law of Peoples (Cambridge, 1999), 10, 19Google Scholar.

4 Mikalsen, Kjartan Koch, “In Defense of Kant's League of States”, Law and Philosophy, 30 (2011), 291317, 291CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Shell, Susan Meld, Kant and the Limits of Autonomy (Cambridge, 2009), 223–31Google Scholar.

5 Kleingeld, Pauline, “Approaching Perpetual Peace: Kant's Defence of a League of States and His Ideal of a World Federation,” European Journal of Philosophy, 12 (2004), 304–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Cavallar, Georg, Kant and the Theory and Practice of International Law (Cardiff, 1999), 113–31Google Scholar. Cf. Fichte, J. G., “Review of Immanuel Kant, Perpetual Peace” (1795), trans. Daniel Breazeale, Philosophical Forum, 32 (2001), 319Google Scholar (the institution of “a state of nations . . . is the decision of pure reason, and the federation of nations [Völkerbund] proposed by Kant for the preservation of peace is no more than an intermediary condition”).

6 Wood, Allen W., “Unsocial Sociability: the Anthropological Basis of Kantian Ethics,” Philosophical Topics, 19 (1991), 326–51, 343CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

7 Ferguson, Michaele, “Unsocial Sociability: Perpetual Antagonism in Kant's Political Thought,” in Ellis, Elisabeth, ed., Kant's Political Theory (University Park, 2012), 149–69Google Scholar.

8 Muthu, Sankar, “Productive Resistance in Kant's Political Thought: Domination, Counter-domination, and Global Unsocial Sociability,” in Flikschuh, Katrin and Ypi, Lea, eds., Kant and Colonialism: Historical and Critical Perspectives (Oxford, 2014), 6898, 91CrossRefGoogle Scholar. I am grateful to Professor Muthu for sharing with me an advance copy of this essay.

9 The first modern effort to interpret Kant's philosophy by the light of his political metaphors was Saner, Hans, Kant's Political Thought, trans. E. B. Ashton (Chicago, 1973)Google Scholar. Saner's study is excellent, though I break with it here by emphasizing the necessity of conflict and agonism, even in a fully developed state of perpetual peace. Many subsequent authors have imitated Saner's methodology, but curiously they have mostly neglected the importance of these metaphors for Kant's international political theory, focusing instead on their relation to his domestic constitutional ideas. See O’Neill, Onora, Constructions of Reason (Cambridge, 1989), 328Google Scholar; Höffe, Otfried, Kant's Cosmopolitan Theory of Law and Peace (Cambridge, 2006), 204–27Google Scholar; Møller, Sofie, “Human Rights Jurisprudence Seen through the Framework of Kant's Legal Metaphors,” in Follesdall, Andreas and Maliks, Reidar, eds., Kantian Theory and Human Rights (New York, 2014), 5269Google Scholar.

10 On this approach to reading Kant see Ameriks, Karl, Interpreting Kant's Critiques (Oxford, 2003), 3CrossRefGoogle Scholar (“it becomes possible to find significant support for interpretations of difficult aspects of one text by appealing to patterns of argument found elsewhere in Kant's work”).

11 Kant, Immanuel, “Treaty” (1797), trans. Peter Heath, in Kant, Theoretical Philosophy after 1781, ed. Heath, Peter and Allison, Henry (Cambridge, 2002), 413–22Google Scholar.

12 Muthu, “Productive Resistance in Kant's Political Thought,” 72.

13 Kant, Immanuel, Critique of Pure Reason (1781–7), trans. and ed. Guyer, Paul and Wood, Allen W. (Cambridge, 1998), AviiiixCrossRefGoogle Scholar.

14 Kant, Pure Reason, Bxv.

15 On Kant's varied concepts of “dogmatism” see Forster, Michael N., Kant and Skepticism (Princeton, 2008), 354Google Scholar.

16 Kant, Pure Reason, A422–3/B450–1.

17 Ibid., A751/B779.

18 Ibid., A756/B784. Cf. ibid., A776/B804 (“feuds that can never be resolved”).

19 Kant, “Treaty,” 416.

20 Kant, Pure Reason, A464/B492.

21 Kant, Immanuel, “Some Remarks on Ludwig Heinrich Jakob's Examination of Mendelssohn's Morning hours” (1786), trans. Günter Zöller, in Kant, Anthropology, History, and Education, ed. Zöller, Günter and Louden, Robert B. (Cambridge, 2007), 8: 152Google Scholar, Kant's emphasis.

22 Kant, Pure Reason, Ax–ii.

23 Kant, Immanuel, On a Discovery Whereby Any New Critique of Pure Reason Is to Be Made Superfluous by an Older One (1790), trans. Henry Allison, in Kant, Theoretical Philosophy after 1781, 8: 247Google Scholar, emphasis in the original.

24 Kant, Immanuel, “On a Recently Prominent Tone of Superiority in Philosophy” (1796), trans. Henry Allison, in Kant, Theoretical Philosophy, 8: 395Google Scholar.

25 Kant, “Tone”, 8:405; ibid., 8:390; Kant, Pure Reason, A738/B766. Emphases in the original.

26 Kant, Pure Reason, A751–2/B779–80. Cf. ibid., Bxxv (“To deny that this service of criticism is of any positive utility would be as much as to say that the police are of no positive utility because their chief business is to put a stop to the violence that citizens have to fear from other citizens, so that each can carry on his own affairs in peace and safety”). Emphasis in the original.

27 Ibid., A740/B768. Cf. ibid., A709/B737. The term Disciplin, frequently used by Kant to describe the constraining of pure speculative reason in the First Critique, is also how he characterizes the formation of civil institutions out of the state of nature. See Kant, Immanuel, Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View (1798), trans. Robert B. Louden, in Kant, Anthropology, History, Education, 7: 268Google Scholar.

28 Kant, Pure Reason, B23; ibid., A486/B514.

29 Hobbes, Thomas, The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic (1640), ed. Tönnies, Ferdinand (London, 1889), 36–8Google Scholar. Compare with Kant, Pure Reason, A781/B809; ibid., A464/B492 (“proud claims”).

30 Kant, “Treaty,” 8: 420; Kant, “Tone,” 8: 404.

31 Kant, “Treaty,” 8: 416, emphasis in the original.

32 Kant, Pure Reason, A465/B493, emphasis in the original.

33 Kant, “Treaty,” 8: 421, emphasis in the original; Immanuel Kant, Toward Perpetual Peace (1795), trans. Mary J. Gregor, in Kant, Practical Philosophy, ed. Mary J. Gregor (Cambridge, 1996), 8: 356. These are the only two instances of Friedensbund in the collected works.

34 Kant, Immanuel, Metaphysics of Morals (1797) (Rechtslehre) (§56), trans. Mary J. Gregor, in Practical Philosophy, 6: 346Google Scholar. Cf. ibid. (§61), 6: 351.

35 Kant, “Tone”, 8:405; ibid., 8:390; Kant, Pure Reason, A738/B766. Emphasis in the original.

36 Kant, Perpetual Peace, 8: 381–6.

37 Kant, “Treaty,” 8: 422, emphasis in the original.

38 Kant, Immanuel, “Moral philosophy: Collins's Lecture Notes” (1784), in Lectures on Ethics, trans. Peter Heath, ed. Heath, Peter and Schneewind, J. B. (Cambridge, 1997), 27: 447Google Scholar.

39 Kant, Pure Reason, A238/B297. Cf. Kant, Immanuel, Critique of Practical Reason (1788), trans. Mary J. Gregor, in Kant, Practical Philosophy, 5: 15Google Scholar.

40 Immanuel Kant, “The End of All Things” (1794), trans. Allen W. Wood, in Kant, Religion and Rational Theology, ed. Allen W. Wood and George DiGiovanni (Cambridge, 1996), 8: 335 (“where reason . . . prefers to indulge in enthusiasm rather than—as seems fitting for an intellectual inhabitant of the sensible world—to limit itself within the bounds of the latter” (Vernunft . . . lieber schwärmt, als sich . . . innerhalb den Gränzen dieser eingeschränkt zu halten)). Cf. Kant, Immanuel, “What Does It Mean to Orient Oneself in Thinking?” (1786), trans. Allen W. Wood, in Kant, Religion and Rational Theology, 8: 145Google Scholar.

41 Kant, Pure Reason, A296/B352.

42 Immanuel Kant, “On the Common Saying: That May Be Correct in Theory, but It Is of No Use in Practice” (1793), trans. Mary J. Gregor, in Practical Philosophy, 8: 311, emphasis in the original; Kant, Pure Reason, Aix (“In the beginning, under the administration of the dogmatists, her rule was despotic [Herrschaft . . . despotisch]”).

43 Kant, Immanuel, Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason (1793), trans. George di Giovanni, in Religion and Rational Theology, 6: 35Google Scholar. Cf. Kant, “Perpetual Peace,” 8: 367.

44 Kant, Metaphysics of Morals (Rechtslehre) (Preface), 6: 209. Cf. Kant, Pure Reason, Aix (“Yet . . . this rule gradually degenerated through internal wars into complete anarchy”).

45 Kant, Pure Reason, A794/B822.

46 Ibid., A795/B823. Cf. Kant, , Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics (1783), trans. Gary Hatfield, in Kant, Theoretical Philosophy, 4: 351Google Scholar; Kant, A710/B738; Kant, Pure Reason, A710/B738; Kant, On a Discovery, 8: 228 (“the Critique, which can alone determine the boundary line”).

47 Kant, Metaphysics of Morals (Rechtslehre) (§ 15), 6: 266, emphasis in the original.

48 Kant, Immanuel, “Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Aim” (1784), trans. Allen W. Wood, in Kant, Anthropology, History, Education, 8: 26; Kant, “On a Recently Prominent Tone of Superiority in Philosophy” (1796), trans. Peter Heath, in Theoretical Philosophy, 8: 404Google Scholar; Kant, Pure Reason, A669/B 697.

49 Kant, “Idea for a Universal History,” 8: 20–22, emphasis in the original.

50 Ibid., 8: 21.

51 A similar reading can be found at Ferguson, “Unsocial Sociability,” 153–6.

52 Kant, Immanuel, “Conjectural Beginning of Human History” (1786), trans. Allen W. Wood, in Kant, Anthropology, History, Education, 8: 122Google Scholar; Kant, , “Review of J. G. Herder’s Ideas for the philosophy of the history of humanity Parts 1 and 2” (1785), trans. Allen W. Wood, in Kant, Anthropology, History, Education, 8: 65Google Scholar; Kant, , Critique of the Power of Judgment (1790), ed. and trans. Guyer, Paul and Matthews, Eric (Cambridge, 2000), 5: 263CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

53 Kant, Judgment (§82), 5: 433.

54 Kant, Perpetual Peace, 8: 364. Cf. ibid., 8: 368 (“Just as nature wisely separates states that the will of each state, and even on grounds of the right of nations, would like to unite under itself by cunning or force”).

55 Kant, “Conjectural Beginning of Human History,” 8: 121, emphasis in the original.

56 Ibid., 8: 121. Cf. Kant, Perpetual Peace, 8: 367.

57 Kant, Pure Reason, A464/B492; ibid., A757/B785.

58 Kant, A422–3/B451–2. Cf. ibid., A425/B453. Vereinigung is one of the terms most frequently associated with cosmopolitan right in the political writings; see Kant, Metaphysics of Morals (Rechtslehre) (§43), 6: 311; Kant, “Idea for a Universal History,” 8: 29; Kant, Perpetual Peace, 8: 356.

59 Kant, Pure Reason, A756–7/B785–6.

60 Ibid., A777–8/B805–6.

61 Kant, “Idea for a Universal History,” 8: 28. Cf. Kant, Metaphysics of Morals (Rechtslehre) (§56), 6: 346 (until the establishment of a right of nations, states retain every right of ius ad bellum, including the right to preventive war).

62 Kant, Pure Reason, Ax.

63 Kant, Immanuel, “The Blomberg Logic,” in Kant, Lectures on Logic, trans. and ed. Young, J. Michael (Cambridge, 1992), 210 (translation modified)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

64 Kant, Pure Reason, A395.

65 Kant, “Treaty,” 8: 414, emphasis in the original. Even in the political writings, “unsocial sociability” is bound up with epistemic conflict; it takes hold because each man “wants to direct everything according to his own sense of things.” Kant, “Idea for a Universal History,” 8: 21 (translation modified).

66 Kant, “Treaty,” 8: 413, emphasis in the original.

67 Kant, Prolegomena, 4: 260; Kant, Pure Reason, A757/B786.

68 Kant, Immanuel, What Real Progress Has Metaphysics Made in Germany (1793/1804), trans. Peter Heath, in Kant, Theoretical Philosophy, 20: 319–20Google Scholar.

69 Kant, Pure Reason, A407/B434.

70 Kant, “Idea for a Universal History,” 8: 21; Kant, “Conjectural Beginning of Human History,” 8: 122. Cf. Kant, Perpetual Peace, 8: 343.

71 Kant, “Conjectural Beginning of Human History,” 8: 121.

72 Kant, Immanuel, “An Answer to the Question: What Is Enlightenment?” (1784), trans. Mary J. Gregor, in Kant, Practical Philosophy, 8: 39Google Scholar.

73 Kant, “Idea for a Universal History,” 8: 26, emphasis in the original.

74 Kant, “Treaty,” 8: 416–17, emphasis in the original.

75 Ibid., 8: 415.

76 Kant, Pure Reason, A751–2/B779–80. Cf. ibid., Axii (“this court is none other than the critique of pure reason”).

77 Kant, “The Blomberg Logic,” 24: 209–10.

78 Neiman, Susan, The Unity of Reason (Oxford, 1994), 195Google Scholar.

79 Kant, Pure Reason, A486/B514. Cf. Rossi, Philip, SJ, The Social Authority of Reason (Albany, NY, 2005), 142–3Google Scholar; Laursen, John Christian, The Politics of Skepticism in the Ancients, Montaigne, Hume, and Kant (Leiden, 1992), 199206Google Scholar.

80 Kant, Pure Reason, A738/B766. Cf. O’Neill, Constructions of Reason, 15–17.

81 Kant, Pure Reason, A744/B772.

82 Arthur Ripstein, “Kant and the Circumstances of Justice,” in Ellis, Kant's Political Theory, 42–73, 42.

83 Henry Allison, “General Introduction,” in Kant, Theoretical Philosophy, 1–27, 27.

84 Kant, Perpetual Peace, 8: 345 (“This facility of making war . . . is therefore a great hindrance to perpetual peace”). Cf. ibid. 8: 349 (“which is much rather a condition of war, that is, it involves the constant threat of an outbreak of hostilities even if this does not always occur”).

85 Kant, Pure Reason, A747/B775; A756/B784.

86 A. G. Kästner, Poetische Blumenlese für das Jahr 1797, trans. David Wellbery, in Immanuel Kant, Opus postumum, trans. and ed. Eckhart Förster and Michael Rosen (Cambridge, 1993), 267 n. 51.

87 Kant, Perpetual Peace, 8: 379; Kant, Religion, 6: 93 [muß er forthin immer zum Kampfe gerüstet bleiben].

88 Kant, Immanuel, Conflict of the Faculties, trans. Mary J. Gregor and Robert Anchor, in Kant, Religion and Rational Theology, 7: 34Google Scholar; 7: 61; 7: 35–6, emphasis in the original. The slogan concordia discors . . . is quite close to “The human being wills concord; but nature knows better what is good for his species: it wills discord.” See Kant, “Idea for a Universal History,” 8: 21. Although Kant continuously revised his ideas, including his political ideas, this recycling of language fourteen years later implies that his concept of disorder as the predicate of order remained constant.

89 Kant, “Idea for a Universal History,” 8: 26. Notably, in the next sentence Kant refers to dem an sich heilsamen Widerstande—that is, “the essentially healthy antagonism between states.”

90 Kant, “Treaty,” 8: 416. Emphasis mine.

91 Kant, Metaphysics of Morals (Rechtslehre) (§62), 6: 354 (“Now morally practical reason pronounces in us its irresistible veto: there is to be no war, neither war between you and me in the state of nature nor war between us as states”—emphasis in the original).

92 Ferguson, “Unsocial Sociability,” 164–6.

93 Kant, Anthropology, 7: 276.

94 Kant, “Idea for a Universal History,” 8: 24–6. Cf. Kant, Perpetual Peace, 8: 368; Kant, “Theory/Practice,” 8: 313. Kant's statement in Perpetual Peace that “[t]he way in which states pursue their right can never be legal proceedings before an external court but can only be war” (8: 355) is highly misleading if taken on its own; in context it is clear that he is making a descriptive claim about the present and not a normative claim about the future. On the next page he opines that a state of states (“the civil social union”) is the surest means of securing “the right of nations,” which would seem to falsify the earlier remark. On the other hand, his belief that states “already have a rightful constitution internally and hence have outgrown the constraint of others to bring them under a more extended law-governed constitution” is more complex. Certainly it does not mean that states can never be the targets of coercion by a global political body; it means only that they cannot be dragooned into this new world order against their will. Kleingeld, “Approaching Perpetual Peace,” 320, construes this as a warning about “the proper emergence of these structures and their democratic legitimacy.” Byrd and Hruschka argue that Kant abandoned even this qualified position in the Rechtslehre; see B. Sharon Byrd and Joachim Hruschka, Kant's Doctrine of Right: A Commentary (Cambridge, 2010), 195.

95 See e.g. Reidar Maliks, “Kantian Courts: On the Legitimacy of International Human Rights Courts,” in Follesdall and Maliks, Kantian Theory and Human Rights, 153–74.

96 Byrd and Hruschka, Commentary, 188.

97 Kant, Immanuel, “Anthropology Mrongovius (1784–5),” in Kant, Lectures on Anthropology, trans. Robert R. Clewis, ed. Wood, Allen W. (Cambridge, 2012), 25: 1429CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

98 Kant, Pure Reason, Axi–ii.

99 Kant, “Some Remarks” 8: 152; 8: 154, emphasis in the original. Cf. Kant, “Lectures on Ethics (Collins),” in Lectures on Ethics, 27: 431.

100 Kant, Conflict of the Faculties, 7: 33; 7: 35. Here “lawsuit” is Proceß, and “verdict” is Sentenz.

101 Kant, Metaphysics of Morals (Tugendlehre) (§13), 6: 440.

102 Kant, Metaphysics of Morals (Rechtslehre) (§61), 6: 350. In the “Anthropology Mrongovius,” 25: 1412, Kant also commends the “many examples of peacefully settled disputes at the Diet at Regensburg,” the imperial congress of the Holy Roman Empire.

103 Kant, Metaphysics of Morals (Rechtslehre) (§62), 6: 352, emphasis in the original.

104 Mouffe, Chantal, On the Political (London, 2005), 90Google Scholar; Mouffe, , The Democratic Paradox (London, 2000), 103Google Scholar.

105 Mouffe, Chantal, “Introduction,” in Mouffe, , ed., The Challenge of Carl Schmitt (London, 1999), 16, 4Google Scholar.

106 Mouffe, On the Political, 130.

107 Johann August Schlettwein to Immanuel Kant, 11 May 1797, in Immanuel Kant, Correspondence, trans. and ed. Arnulf Zweig (Cambridge, 1999), 12: 366 (my translation).

108 Kant, Immanuel to Johann August Schlettwein, 29 May 1797, in Kant, Correspondence, 12: 367–8Google Scholar.

1
Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

THE BATTLEFIELD OF METAPHYSICS: PERPETUAL PEACE REVISITED*
Available formats
×

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

THE BATTLEFIELD OF METAPHYSICS: PERPETUAL PEACE REVISITED*
Available formats
×

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

THE BATTLEFIELD OF METAPHYSICS: PERPETUAL PEACE REVISITED*
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *