Introduction
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Introduction In 1795 and 1796 Immanuel Kant wrote two essays that reference in their titles the desire for the permanent cessation of hostilities in philosophy and international politics. The first of these essays, Toward Perpetual Peace, argues for peace among states as both a political necessity and a moral requirement. The second, Proclamation of the Imminent Conclusion of a Treaty of Perpetual Peace in Philosophy, proposes an end to the intractable dispute in philosophy between dogmatic and skeptical factions. Although Kant continued to publish significant material after these essays there is a sense in which they indicate the final horizons of thought in politics and philosophy of a thinker who by 1796 was beginning to show the signs of mental deterioration.1 The crystallization of Kant’s thought in relation to the ultimate pacification of international politics was probably linked to momentous events affecting Europe at the time, events that simultaneously pointed to the limits of what was achievable in the immediate context, but that also held promise for the future that Kant was determined to explore. One such event occurred on April 5, 1795, when François Barthélemy , the ambassador of the French Republic to Switzerland, and Karl August von Hardenberg, the representative of the Prussian king Friedrich Wilhelm II, signed the first Treaty of Basel to end Prussian involvement in the War of the First Coalition against the revolutionary regime that had transformed France and the face of Europe. The Treaty of Basel is a fairly typical example of a contemporary peace treaty: it comprises 12 articles relating to mundane matters such as the cessation of hostilities, the settlement of territorial claims, the return of prisoners, and the restoration of commercial relations. These articles are followed by a further six “secret” articles known only to the French and Prus- 2    kant’s international relations sian delegates. They concern the conduct of the contracting parties within the context of the ongoing war between Austria and her allies against France. Particularly interesting is the undertaking in the second secret article by Prussia to discuss the modalities of transferring Prussian-­ held territories to France in return for a French indemnity in the event of France retaining the left bank of the Rhine at the conclusion of the wider war.2 Toward Perpetual Peace is Kant’s ambitious but guarded philosophical response to the problems of war and peace in a revolutionary era. Published by the Königsberg publisher Nicolovius in December 1795, this essay may be read as a repudiation of the kind of peace represented by the Treaty of Basel. In contrast to the “solid” peace by which France guaranteed to respect the interests of the Prussian king on the right bank of the Rhine for the limited period of three months, Kant’s peace would establish peace in perpetuity.3 Toward Perpetual Peace is composed of six preliminary articles, three definitive articles, two supplements, and two long appendices. The preliminary articles outline the conditions necessary for peace to be achieved: that peace should be concluded with no secret reservations for war in the future; that states and their populations should not be subject to acquisition by other states; that standing armies ought to be abolished; that debt should not finance the conflicts of states; that the principle of nonintervention should be maintained; and finally that in any war the combatants should not act in such a manner as to make the trust of its current opponent impossible to obtain in the future. The definitive articles concern what is necessary in order to maintain peace: domestically, the establishment of a republican constitution; internationally , that the law of nations should be based on a federation of free states; and finally, that cosmopolitan law should be restricted to hospitality. The first supplement argues that the “great artist nature” guarantees the eventual achievement of perpetual peace. The second, secret supplement contains Kant’s plea that sovereign authorities seek and consider seriously the advice of philosophers regarding war and peace and allow those philosophers to speak freely to each other in relation to these matters. The appendices concern the conflict between morality and politics as an impediment to perpetual peace and how this conflict might be resolved. The primary difference between Kant’s theoretical enterprise and its real-­ world equivalent signed in Basel is that Kant’s treaty extended the concept of right in global politics from the great powers to all states and, through the concept of cosmopolitan law, to individuals. Deftly...


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