Of Free Federations and World States

Abstract
Immanuel Kant’s position on international justice is beset by some troublesome inconsistencies, most notably a conflicted set of views on the status of federations as suitable alternatives to a world state. It is tempting for contemporary readers to interpret Kant’s indecision as a lack of commitment or resoluteness. Closer inspection demonstrates that this problem involves deeper paradoxes, rooted in the concept of sovereignty. On this matter, Kant’s Rechtslehre is the source of the difficulties found in the “popular” essays. Kant’s vacillating position on the proper institutional end for international relations is attributable to the fundamentally “permissive” character of his concept of right. Rechtslehre doctrines entail a form of skepticism, from which a coherent cosmopolitan program cannot possibly be derived
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