Kant and Habermas on International Law

23 Pages Posted: 11 May 2013

See all articles by Kjartan Mikalsen

Kjartan Mikalsen

Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)

Date Written: June 2013


The purpose of this article is to present a critical assessment of Jürgen Habermas' reformulation of Kant's philosophical project Toward Perpetual Peace. Special attention is paid to how well Habermas' proposed multi‐level institutional model fares in comparison with Kant's proposal - a league of states. I argue that Habermas' critique of the league fails in important respects, and that his proposal faces at least two problems. The first is that it implies a problematic asymmetry between powerful and less powerful states. The second is that it entails creating a global police force that has an obligation to intervene against egregious human rights violations worldwide, and that this seems incompatible with the idea that every person has an innate right to freedom. There are important normative constraints relevant for institutional design in the international domain that Habermas does not take sufficiently into account. However, this does not mean that Kant's league cannot be supplemented with more comprehensive forms of institutional cooperation between states. On the basis of my assessment of the multi‐level model, I propose a hybrid model combining elements from Kant and Habermas.

Suggested Citation

Mikalsen, Kjartan, Kant and Habermas on International Law (June 2013). Ratio Juris, Vol. 26, Issue 2, pp. 302-324, 2013, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2263579 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/raju.12015

Kjartan Mikalsen (Contact Author)

Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) ( email )

Trondheim NO-7491, 7491

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics