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Empirical feasibility in Kant’s Perpetual Peace

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Garrett S.
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  1. Introduction.
  2. Perpetual Peace and Kant's concept of human nature.
  3. Kant's error of rationality.
  4. Empirical proof: The shortcomings the United Nations.
  5. Conclusion.

In his essay Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch, Immanuel Kant prescribes the means of attaining a worldwide peace among nations. In theory, Kant's idea of achieving Perpetual Peace relies not on reactionary peaceful measures of ending wars once they have begun, but instead on creating a preventative system; that is, Kant believes that the effectiveness of reactionary peace policy is far inferior to the construction of a preventative contract between nations that would call for a continued peace and the perpetual existence of peaceful negotiations in order to avoid war. Kant writes that ?peace can neither be inaugurated nor secured without a general agreement between the nations; thus a particular kind of league, which we might call a pacific federation is required. [This] would differ from a peace treaty in that the latter terminates one war, whereas the former would seek to end all wars for good? (104).

[...] The third and final condition for achieving a Perpetual Peace is that ?Cosmopolitan Right shall be limited to Conditions of Universal Hospitality.? This condition is rather brief and intuitive, but in short, it states that visitors from other states must be treated without hostility when in a foreign state. Essentially, Kant argues that hospitality and civilized interactions between states and their visitors is key to maintaining peace, because, if every state maintains this strict code of peaceful conduct, then this ?universal community . [...]


[...] Swinton seems to insinuate that a Perpetual Peace may not be possible in a world without unity, as even one member who disagrees with the concepts of peace can disrupt the peaceful intentions of the rest of the world. Thus, coalitions such as the United Nations are fighting an impossible battle; they seek to create peace where there can be none, and attempt to impose peaceful intentions on those who are perpetually aggressive. And, although there may be many rational actors on the world stage who see peace as the best means of achieving self-preservation, the existence of merely a few irrational beings makes maintaining peace impossible. [...]


[...] Although the ideas expressed in Perpetual Peace are strong in theory, they have never held true in an empirical sense. War has always been and still remains ubiquitous in our world, and ?[p]ractices of violence permeate the global arena? (Jabri 1). In general, there has never been a time of ?perpetual peace? among nations, and it does not appear that there will ever exist such a time in the near future. The institutions outlined in Perpetual Peace have never existed as intended by Kant; the two most notable pacific federations in history, the League of Nations and the United Nations, have proven to be generally ineffective in circumventing wars or efficiently mediating international conflicts. [...]

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