Historian or Philosopher? Ian Hunter on Kant and Vattel

History of European Ideas 40 (1):122-134 (2014)

Abstract
Ian Hunter's essay pursues several lines of argument, one explicit and the others not. The first is that of an historian correcting the mistaken view among Kantian commentators that Kant's conception of international justice had displaced Vattel's as the dominant one in nineteenth- and twentieth-century international thought. The second, which is not acknowledged, is that of a philosopher entering a debate over the relative cogency of the two conceptions. To accomplish this unacknowledged philosophical task, Hunter exaggerates the importance of Kant's metaphysics in his treatment of international justice and understates the element of raison d'état in Vattel's casuistical ethics. The subtext in both lines of argument is criticism, political rather than either historical or philosophical, of Kant's effort to articulate principles of international justice, together with implicit advocacy of Vattelian ethics as a corrective to Kantian ideology.
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DOI 10.1080/01916599.2012.725669
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