Refinements in reception and application of philosophemes
in International Relations theory are always welcome, and particularly
in cases where distortions abound as the result of selective importation.
One such case is, without doubt, the philosophy of I. Kant.
Until rather recently, few attempts were made in IR theory to interface the reception
of his writings in ‘anthropology, philosophy of history, politics and pedagogy’
with some more holistic appreciation of the philosophical project to which they belong.
This tendency alone produces some distortions, which are only amplified by a
baffling reluctance to engage the question of the plausibility of this project in the
very form given to it by Kant himself. Hardly anything has been written in IR about
what problems twentieth century Kant scholarship may raise for a reception
practice which proceeds by ‘lifting’ Kant's political writings over
into analyses of contemporary international politics.This
echoes the familiar criticisms of M. Doyle's reading of the perpetual peace
(for a recent critical reading of Doyle's thesis, see G. Cavallar ‘Kantian Perspectives
on Perpetual Peace’, in Review of International Studies,
27:2 (2001), pp. 229–48), but should also be understood as a plea for greater
sensitivity towards discourses in political philosophy more generally. This could
include work on the conditions of transcendental-philosophical approaches, as they
inform the critical philosophy developed by K. O. Apel and J. Habermas, and,
by extension, the work on cosmopolitan democracy by Held et al.
The result is that a plurality of ‘Kantian legacies’ exist in IR theory, and that
their respective proponents appear to be talking past each other in addressing