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Immanuel Kant

Immanuel Kant was a man before his time. His philosophies, as outlined in

Perpetual Peace, paved the way for modern political relations. Unbeknownst

to his day and age, his insights were a revelation. They were seeds planted

and left unsewn for 120 years. As a first and second image theorist, Kant

mixes his liberal and realist views to paint a picture of "perpetual peace." His

essay outlines the actions that nations should take to achieve this lofty

objective. Through his layout of behavioral and philosophical ideologies, he

believes nations can truly live synchronically. The first section of Kant's essay

contains articles that specifically state the actions that nations should take to

enable them to establish a world peace. These six articles must become the

law of a nation endeavoring for peace. The first article applies to treaties of

peace. In the first article he explains that states entering into peace treaties

must resolve all problems that lead them to war. All parties must make

known their issues and work to rectify them. Thus, in the future, there will be

no circumstance that will lead them to war again amongst each other. The

second of these laws communicates the need for all independent nations to be

free from the seizure of another state. The next article is in complete

opposition to the realist theory. Kant explains that all nations need to

gradually dispense of their armed forces. He believes that armies held by

nations increase the tension of their rivals. This makes them increase the size

of their military. Here, Kant indirectly addresses the realist Prisoner's

Dilemma. He believes that international conflicts arise from mistaken beliefs,

as well as inadequate information and bad governments. As each side

increases their military, the more likely a war will start. Thus, the paradox of

the Prisoner's Dilemma. Kant argues that because humans have rationality,

they can break out of the Prisoner's Dilemma. This is a fundamental

difference between Kant and a traditional realist such as Morgantheau. The

fourth law is about a nation's debt to the others. In this law, Kant argues that

nations indebted to one another will cause war. He states in this article that if

a nation face bankruptcy, then the nations that have loaned it funds will also


... middle of paper ...

...ay. He wants a governmental system

created whereby you have a society of laws and not of men. Kant starts out

at the first image as a realist by admitting the inherent warlike human nature of

mankind. As he moves to the second image he moves toward more liberal

beliefs. He sees the state as a means of implementing a moral society with a

structure that leaves no room for misbehavior. At the third image he becomes

quite liberal. If states can abide by laws, then they can work together in

harmony and morality. This is in sharp contrast with a classic realist like

Morgantheau who sees no room for morality in international relations.

However, Kant is not a naive liberal. For instance, he agrees with Thomas

Hobbes when he concurs that there is no law above the state. With this

knowledge in hand, he urges states to overcome their natural instincts and do

what will ensure a perpetual peace. Or else, he warns: "...the destruction of

both parties along with all rights is the result - would permit perpetual peace

to occur only in the vast graveyard of humanity as a whole." (110)


Kant, Immanuel. Perpetual Peace. Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. 1983.

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