Kant, the Republican Peace, and Moral Guidance in International Law [Abstract]

Ethics & International Affairs, Volume 8 (1994)

December 3, 1994

Lynch addresses the return to the influential Enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant—a "prophet of progressive international reform"—and examines the relationship between the Kantian system of ethics and the development of international law that has invigorated discussion of the post-Cold War era. Lynch's essay ties Kant's ideas of "the interrelationship between the use of reason, consequent moral deeds, the constitution of republics, and the creation of a league of peaceful, law-abiding nations" to the post-Cold War proliferation of liberal democracies. Using Kant's own conceptions of the importance of reason and duty, Lynch surveys the Kantian tradition with respect to international law and applies Kant's views to the ideas of intervention and assistance. Do the views Kant espoused 200 ago shed light on the modern-day dilemma of "creating a more peaceful, more cooperative world"? How, for example, do his principles of moral duty and autonomy apply to intervention? Does his premise that the moral choice of action must outweigh successful ends still hold in today's world? Lynch emphasizes the need to analyze various and often conflicting interpretations of Kant's political reasoning. Probing the different interpretations of Kant may be the best route to understanding the true implications of the ideals he presented.


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