Luigi Caranti. Perpetual Peace and Liberal Peace: Three Misunderstandings

In the definitive articles of Toward Perpetual Peace (1795), Kant advocated three main institutional reforms to eliminate the greatest self-inflicted tragedy of humanity, i.e. war. Kant thought that if national governments become “republican” (i.e., what we would now call liberal-democratic), an international federation of states (along the lines of the UN or the EU) is established, and a certain degree of permeability between states to allow visits by foreigners (“the right to visit”) ensured, an ever-lasting peace among nations would eventually occur. In the 1980s, Michael Doyle (1983a; 1983b) interpreted a two hundred year absence of conflicts between democracies – an historical fact whose significance is challenged by only a few (Spiro 1996; Archibugi 1997; Gowa 1999; Henderson 2002) – as a striking piece of evidence in favor of Kant’s theory. Doyle’s claim sparked one of the most important research programs in the social sciences of our times – the Democratic Peace Theory (henceforth DPT) – a program that interestingly sits at the intersection of political philosophy, political science, and international relations.

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