Kant And Freedom Essay Research Paper Immanuel

Kant And Freedom Essay, Research Paper

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

be adversely affected. Also, sovereignty of a nation is another law that Kant

argues to be important to world peace. Nations, he says, must not interfere

with the constitution of another. He implicitly reaffirms the principals of the

Treaty of Wesphaylia – sovereignty and noninterference. In the final article,

Kant addresses war directly. He states that if nations are at war, then they

should refrain from doing things during the course of war that would cause the

other nations to distrust them in future times of peace. By this, he is referring

to the use of assassins and treasonous deeds. This concludes the first section

of his essay. The second section of “Perpetual Peace” is more in depth. Kant

gives us three articles that define what type of government nations must apply

to reach a perpetual peace. He begins this section by arguing that it is not in

man’s nature to be at peace. He declares that the natural state of man is war.

He goes on to say: “…for the suspension of hostilities does not provide the

security of peace…” (111) However, it can be reached in a state of

lawfulness. Kant explains why republican constitutions are vital to ensure the

peace of nations. He reasons this by arguing that this is the only type of

government that guarantees freedom and equality of the people. Kant goes

on to state that the republican form of government is the most difficult to form

and maintain. But, he reaffirms that a republic is the type of government most

apt to achieve peace because it gives its people a voice, ensures

consequences for lawbreakers, and imposes a system of checks and

balances to divide the power equally amongst governmental bodies. Also, in

this article, Kant addresses the concept of sovereignty. Nations must not

interfere with the constitution of another because it may cause a war. In the

second article, Kant discusses his theory of a federation of nations. Wilson

referred to these ideas in his fourteen points. This theory encompasses the

ideas behind the creating of a League of Nations. This would help ensure that

every nation is pursuing what is in the best interest of world politics and not

just its own interest. This is Kant’s liberal third image thinking at its height. On

this subject Kant explains: “A league of a special sort must therefore be

established, on that we can call a league of peace, which will be distinguished

from a treaty of peace because the latter seeks merely to stop one war, while

the former seeks to end all wars forever.” (115) The third article is what Kant

calls the cosmopolitan right. This law deals with a nation’s peaceful

obligations to visitors from other nations. The law states that if a person is

visiting another nation, then that nation should treat him kindly and show him

no ill will. He further elaborates on the rights of nations to chose whether or

not to give a visitor extended or permanent residence. He believes that the

more nations interact, the less likely it is for war to break out between them.

He closes his writings with two supplements and an appendix. At this point in

his essay, Kant turns to a more philosophical viewpoint. He discusses a man’s

tendency to be in a state of war. Kant titles it the “Secret Article for Perpetual

Peace.” The secret is that the government should consult with philosophers on

matters of the state without the knowledge of the people. He believes that

philosophers are essential to searching for and solving the problems of war.

He explains that people revere the government as wise and must keep the

consultation private. But, he would like to make it possible for the

philosophers speak freely to the public. The end of his essay is entrenched in

his liberalism. He argues that politics needs some sense of morality for a

nation to stay at peace. Again, he refers to man’s natural state as a state of

war. In his appendix, he shares his view on how we can leave our natural

state for one of peace. This demonstrates how he turns a realist view liberal.

He sees the solution in the choices of mankind. He argues that people must

do what is right and make their decisions based on the good of the republic

to make peace become a reality. The majority of Kant’s essay is based on

liberal theory. He relies heavily on second image theories with his beliefs in

republican constitutions. He sees the causes of war to be linked to the nature

of state and government. He believes that states should form a union and not

merely act on their own accord. Kant reiterates: “For the sake of its own

security, each nation can and should demand that the others enter into a

contract resembling the civil one and guaranteeing the rights of each. This

would be a federation of nations, but it must not be a nation consisting with

nations” (115) A realist would find it difficult to be drawn into this type of

contract. Their philosophy is strictly first image and deals only with power.

Kant disagrees with a philosophy based solely on power struggles. He argues

that if the state meets his long term needs, then man will act in ways that best

serve the state. This also opposes the realist ideology. For instance, realists

argue that men only make decisions that affect him on a short run basis. In its

very conception, a republican government is a long term undertaking. His

main connection with the realist theory is his admittance that the natural state

of man is war. He confronts this throughout his essay. “The state of peace

among men living in close proximity is not the natural state; instead, the

natural state is one of war, which does not exist in open hostilities, but also in

constant and enduring threat of them.” (111) Kant argues that if we involve

morality in our decisions and choose what is right for our nation, then

perpetual peace will surely come. Throughout the essay, Kant offers his

views on avoiding war through compromising, problem solving, morality, and

a coming together of states to ensure peace. These ideals oppose the realist

thought because they do not place all the emphasis on war and power.

Instead, he focuses on the first image theories of the psychology of man and

relies heavily on second image theories of the nature of the state. Kant

stresses rule of law throughout his essay. 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. 19


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