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Kantian Perspective on the Role of Moral Progress in the Realization of the Cosmopolitan Ideal

1. Introduction

In one of his most prominent political texts, Towards Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch, Kant holds that the ultimate goal (telos) in nature is to achieve perpetual peace, and addresses the main question of the text as how to achieve it. Generally speaking, Kant has an affirmative view regarding the possibility of achieving perpetual peace on the national, international, and global scales. Kant essentially proposes that perpetual peace can be established on the basis of unifying under the rational and universal ideals of humanity, namely justice, freedom and equality. On the national level, Kant advocates that every nation should be established as a republican constitutional state, which is a form of government that is grounded on the universal principles of justice, equality, and freedom. On the international level, he argues that nations should not remain isolated from each other, but should unite under universal ideals to form an international union, namely, federalism. The final stage of perpetual peace, however, is envisaged to be cosmopolitanism in which individuals are regarded not only as citizens of a particular political state or international union, but as members of a single moral community (world) that is based on the afore-mentioned universal principles. In this way, Kant argues that the cosmopolitan ideal is not a hopeless dream, but a realizable project through the three-stage progress of societies towards cosmopolitanism.

Concerning the methods to attain the cosmopolitan ideal of peace and freedom, Kant offers a highly unique approach. By denouncing the top-down methods such as the overthrow of political power, war, or revolution etc., he argues that the cosmopolitan ideal can only be achieved through a gradual reform or progress. In this paper, I associate the Kantian term of gradual progress and reform with the advancement in moral maturity and enlightenment of individuals who would gradually cultivate themselves in terms of the concepts of justice, equality, and freedom. Therefore, I focus on the fact that Kant regards the microcosmic level of moral development in relation to the universal concepts of equality, freedom, and justice more than any systematic or top-down method as a way to achieve the cosmopolitan ideal of peace and freedom. In this way, I aim to show that the moral development of individuals or citizens in terms of the universal principles of equality, freedom, and justice is the most important condition for the possibility of creating a peaceful, just, and free cosmopolitan society. In this sense, I propose that the moral improvement of citizens, such as the ability to think autonomously, to make sense of the ideals of justice, equality and freedom, etc., must be the ultimate goals that states and authorities must provide for their citizens in order to approximate to the ideal of cosmopolitanism.

 

2. The Ideal Form of Government: Republican Constitutionalis

Before I analyze the concept of republican constitutionalism in greater detail, it is aptly necessary to describe the concept of civil society in Kantian political thought. It is first necessary to point out that the Kantian conception of civil society is a necessary phenomenon in human history in social and moral sense. In his political writings, Kant basically argues that civil society has arisen out of necessity. In the Toward Perpetual Peace, he argues that in the absence of a civil society, that is, in a state of nature, individuals would be in a constant state of war and conflict in which they lack peace and security (Kant, 2006, 8:349, p. 72 and Doyle, 2006, p. 203). In this account, Kant offers almost a Hobbesian type of state of nature theory according to which people are regarded as antagonistic and hostile to one another because they lack a binding mechanism or power that controls them (Tuck, 1999, p. 207-208). Therefore, Kant suggests that civil society among individuals is the only way out of the chaotic and hostile existence in a state of nature. In addition to overcoming chaos and uncertainty, Kant argues that the establishment of civil society would also enable people to develop their natural capacities. In "Idea for a Universal History," Kant writes that socialization is an indispensable phenomenon for the growth of the natural capacities of individuals (Kant, 2006, 8:22, p. 8; Covell, 1998, p. 150). Kant also points out that civil society contributes to the moral growth of individuals. To do so, Kant argues that the human being is a rational being who cannot simply live a slavish life in nature (Kant, 2006, 8:354, p. 78). In other words, Kant believes that man as a rational being should overcome the brutal way of life in the state of nature. As is well known, Kant associates the state of nature (status naturalis) with “wild freedom” and describes it as a condition in which people live in a barbaric, unrefined and brutish way (Kant 2006, 8:22, p. 8). By this means, Kant identifies this form of freedom as irrational and argues that humanity should necessarily establish a rational form of freedom in a civil society. W. B. Gallie, in Philosophers of Peace and War, points to this distinction Kant makes between two forms of freedom, by calling the form of freedom in the civil state as “lawful freedom” and the form of freedom in the state of nature as the “natural freedom” (Gallie, 1978, p. 21). Gallie defines “lawful freedom” as a state in which people treat each other as ends but not as means. In this sense, Gallie emphasizes that the Kantian conception of civil state envisages a state of rational and moral existence in which people learn to respect the freedom of others and develop their moral identity as ends in themselves. Thus, Gallie points out that Kant’s political theory views civil society as a rational form of existence that necessarily contributes to the rational and moral growth of its individuals.

Moreover, Kant argues that civil society is not an arbitrary organism, but a rationally constructed one. Charles Covell, in Kant and Law of Peace, argues that Kant does not view the state as a historical fact that naturally emerges from a social contract between individuals, but rather he views it as a construction built by the rational efforts and ideals of individuals (Covell, 1998, p. 54-55) [1]. Furthermore, Kant argues that an ideal society is a construction of individuals promotes the rational ideals of humanity, stating: “The greatest problem for the human spirits, the solution of which nature compels him to seek, is that of attaining a civil society which can administer justice ultimately” (Kant, 2006, 8:290, p. 45). Kant also adds, “Nature’s highest intent for humankind, that is, the development of all of the latter’s natural predispositions, can be realized only in society, and more precisely, in a society that possesses the greatest degree of freedom” (Kant, 2006, 8:22, p. 8). Therefore, Kant suggests that the ultimate elements of a civil society are the rational principles of justice and freedom. Peter Nicholson nicely puts in his article that the state of nature in Kantian political theory is a state in which there is no justice because there is no judge who is legally binding. Nicholson, on the other hand, defines Kantian civil society as a state in which people are under moral laws (Nicholson, 1976, p. 216). Thus, Nicholson implies that according to Kant, the true form of civil society can be constructed through the efforts of individuals based on rational and moral ideals. In summary, the Kantian conception of civil state is a rational and moral form of existence that is constructed through the rational efforts of individuals that leads to a peaceful and free environment in which they can develop themselves naturally and morally.

In the Toward Perpetual Peace in which Kant essentially addresses the question of the possibility of perpetual peace, [2] one of the main issues that he is concerned is the definition of the ideal form of government/regime (forma regiminis) that would contribute to perpetual peace. He essentially argues that the only regime that would lead to a peaceful civil society is the one based on the universal idea of law and justice which he calls republican constitutionalism [3] (Kant, 2006, 8:351, p. 75). Kant expresses the basic principles of republican constitutionalism as “the ideals of freedom of the members of a society as human beings, independence among the members of the society as subjects, and equality of the members of the society as citizens” (Kant, 2006, 8:350, p. 74). Thus, Kant primarily advocates the universal ideals of equality and freedom as the main principles of the republican constitutionalism and believes that the true civil society can only emerge by agreeing on these common ideals [4].

One of the main reasons that Kant advocates republican constitutionalism as the right form of government is that it requires the active participation of each individual in the process of decision making. For example, in the Toward Perpetual Peace, Kant argues that it is only under republican constitutionalism that people can decide whether or not to participate in a war or not (Kant, 2006, 8:351, p. 75). In other regimes, however, it is the political authority, such as the king etc. himself, who decides whether or not to go to war. Moreover, Kant claims that any moral and rational agents in a republican constitutional state can participate in the voting. In this respect, Kant distinguishes between active and passive citizenship. He elucidates that the moral and rational agents who have a moral and financial independence are active citizens of the state that have a right to vote whereas those who are not grown morally and are dependent financially like women, children etc. are passive citizens of the state having no right to vote [5].

Kant also holds that there is a separation between the executive and legislative powers in republican constitutionalism in the sense that the executive power is not given the whole power but it is controlled and restricted by the universal laws of justice and freedom. In other words, in republican constitutionalism the executive power can never violate the universal law which ultimately guarantees the freedom, justice and equality of people. Covell argues that this limitation on the executive power in republican constitutionalism guarantees that the political sovereign remains to be the true representative of the people (Covell 1998: 65). The republican constitutionalism is, thus, argued to be a form of government that would guarantee the separation of the legislative and executive powers as a way to ensure that the universal laws of justice and freedom are implemented properly. Covell comments on  this representative character of the legislative authority of the republican constitutionalism in Kant’s theory by saying: “Since the legislative power was to be attributed to the general will of the people, the laws maintained in the state were to be thought of as laws which were decided by each individual for all the people and by all the people for each individual on an equal basis” (Covell 1998: 53). Thus, Covell points out that the legislative power in republican constitutionalism does directly reflect the decisions of the individuals. In other words, as Covell points out, Kant holds that there is a direct relation between the general will of the society and  the will of individuals in republican constitutionalism.

 

3.         International Union: Federalism 

 Concerning the cosmopolitan ideal of permanent peace, Kant basically argues that it cannot be simply constructed on a national scale. By this means, he suggests that even if nations establish themselves as republican constitutional states, they would not remain peaceful if they keep isolated and fragmented from each other. In that respect, Kant thinks that nations are like individuals in the state of nature who are antagonistic to each other as they lack a binding authority or law that controls them. Accordingly, Kant remarks that, similar to individuals who form a civil society, nations ought to come together to sign a peace treaty that would guarantee a lasting peace among each other. In the Toward Perpetual Peace, Kant says:

But peace can be neither brought about nor secured without a treaty among peoples, and for this reason a special sort of federation must be created, which one might call a pacific federation (foedus pacificum). This federation would be distinct from a peace treaty (pactum pacis) in that it seeks to end not merely one war, as does the latter, but rather to end all wars forever (Kant, 2006, 8:356, p. 80).

Hence, Kant states that the peace treaty among nations encapsulates the idea of a pacific federation. In other words, he argues that nations can only build peace and security by “federating” under the common ideals of justice, equality and freedom. Accordingly, Kant elaborates on federalism as follows:

 

For if fortune so determines that a powerful and enlightened people can constitute itself as a republic (which according to its nature necessarily tends toward perpetual peace), then this republic provides a focus point for other states, so that they might join this federative union and thereby secure the condition of peace among states in accordance with the idea of international right and gradually extend this union further and further through several such associations (Kant, 2006, 8:356, p. 80).

 

Kant here advocates for the unification of the individuals and nations under a peaceful federation through the common ideal of universal right. In that respect, one can argue that the Kantian ideal of federalism is a unifying project. In other words, Kant does advocate for the unification of nations rather than the division or fragmentation among them. In the “Idea for a Universal History” he says the following:“In such a federation, every state, even the smallest one, could expect its security and its rights, not by virtue of its own power or as a consequence of its own legal judgment, but rather solely by virtue of this great federation of peoples (Foedus Amphictyonum), from a united power and from the decision based on laws of the united will”(Kant 2006: 10). Here Kant argues that federalism depends upon the  principle of the general and the united will of every single state. In that sense, he concedes that federalism is not a system in which nations can practice their own power in order to maintain their peace but they need to depend upon the common power and united will of the federation. With this regard, Anderson-Gold argues that nations in Kantian notion of federalism are not atomistic entities (Baiusu, Philstörm and Williams 2011: 237). Anderson-Gold points to the fact that the federalist ideal of Kant embraces the idea that the independence of nations is determined by the reciprocal recognition and mutual interaction between them. In that sense, Anderson-Gold suggests that nations in Kantian ideal of federation are not individually free but they define their freedom through their mutual interaction that is based on the common law. Similarly, Covell points to the unifying aspect of Kantian political theory by saying that in the Kantian political theory nations are not self-seeking or self-interested entities but rather they are bound together by the common principles of right and justice (Covell 1998: 70).

The idea that the nations cannot be free or autonomous to act against the common  will of the federation may sound tyrannical per se. Nevertheless, Kant is very careful in pointing out that nations are not passive or non-autonomous entities within the union of the federation. He rather claims that they have their own individual autonomy. In that sense, Kant rejects the tyrannical project of eliminating the individual autonomy of states under the common ideals but rather stresses that the nations ought to develop their individual autonomy within the ground of the universal ideals of federation. In that sense, Covell highlights that states in Kantian federation are not brought together abruptly under the governance of a certain international power but the federation is an association to which

states participate independently and voluntarily (Covell 1998: 125). Similarly, Gallie argues that the Kantian federation is not an abrupt organization of states under a certain authority like an empire but it is based on the idea that nations build their own identity and self-autonomy freely and collectively (Gallie 1978: 23). Similarly, Richard Tuck puts forward that in Kantian federalist union all nations are envisaged to be equally free and respectful for their own identity (Tuck 1999: 220). To sum, one can argue that the notion of federalism in Kantian political though does not eliminate the individual autonomy and identity of the nations but rather enables them to grow individually within the bounds and principles of the freedom and justice of the other nations.

Moreover, the fact that Kant emphasizes the importance of the autonomy and freedom of nations and requires nations to have a certain autonomy in order to be part of the federation could appear as an elitist approach. To put it more clearly, Covell argues that, in Kantian political thought, nations are not natural members of the federation. They rather go through the normative process of building up themselves as republican constitutional states on the basis of the ideals of justice, equality and freedom. In that sense, nations are required to be autonomous and enlightened enough to be part of the federation (Covell 1998: 141). In this account, one might suppose that the Kantian idea of federation does exclude nations that are not self-autonomous or enlightened enough. However, Kant does clearly reject this elitist view by suggesting that every community is equal on the basis of the universal right and justice and all are included equally in the ideal of federalism. In this regard, Kant criticizes the inhospitable and colonizing attitude of civilized states (Kant 2006: 82-83). He argues that non-states and their inhabitants cannot be considered as nothing by the civilized world (Baiusu, Philstoerm, and Williams, 2011, p. 242). Likewise, Anderson-Golds puts that in Kantian view the conditions of right are universal and there is no distinction between the civilized or non-civilized in terms of their universal right for being a member of federation (Baiusu, Philstörm and Williams 2011: 243). In that sense, for Kant, the non-autonomous or unenlightened communities are welcomed equally as the members of the federation. With this regard, Cowell argues that the Kantian ideal of federalism is an alternative to the power-based political rhetoric on international scale (Covell 1998: 131). Covell basically suggests that the Kantian federalism rejects the international order which is shaped by the superiority and inferiority rhetoric. As opposed to this hierarchical approach, Kantian federalism acknowledges that each nation is bound equally by the universal laws (Baiusu, Philstörm and Williams 2011: 241) [6].

Moreover, Kant regards federalism as an ongoing and progressive project that moves forward through the development of individuals and nations. In that sense, Kant puts forward that the federalism is not a static or closed system in itself but it is a progressive and open one that is constructed by the growth and progression of the states and individuals towards the common ideals of justice, equality and freedom. Covell expresses this progressive aspect of federalism, saying that it is an act of moving towards the international peace in its conformity with the rule of law (Covell 1998: 124-125). Further, Gallie utters that the Kantian federative ideal entails the voluntary and progressive movement of nations towards permanent peace (Gallie 1978: 22).

 

4. Cosmopolitanism

The Kantian ideal of permanent peace and freedom inevitably transcends the national and international framework. Rather, it is a universal and cosmopolitan project based ultimately on the unification of individuals and states under the common ideals of justice, freedom, and equality. In Metaphysics of Morals, Kant emphasizes that the cosmopolitan ideal of peace and freedom is not a philanthropic ideal but a principle of right (Kant, 2006, 6:352, p. 146). Kant defines the third and last stage of the cosmopolitan project of peace and freedom as the realization of the cosmopolitan right (Weltbürgerrecht) by expressing it as follows: “… cosmopolitan right, to the extent that individuals and states, who are related externally by the mutual exertion of influence on each other, are to be regarded as citizens of a universal state of humankind (ius cosmopoliticum)” (Kant, 2006, 8:349, p. 73). Here Kant emphasizes the unification of individuals and states under the common ideals of humanity. He believes that in the final stage of cosmopolitan peace and freedom, individuals and states will transcend the boundaries of national and international borders by discovering their common roots and ideals as humanity and that they will form a unity on this basis. In this sense, Kant’s cosmopolitan ideal means that all national, racial, ethnic, linguistic, etc. differences would be overcome under the common ideals of humanity. Similarly, Kant views that at the final stage of social development, an ethical society will emerge, which he calls the “kingdom of ends.” [7] He specifically argues that the ethical society is a cosmopolitan ideal in which individuals construct themselves as moral agents and they gain self-autonomy by respecting each other as an end in themselves. Pauline Kleingeld in her article “Kant’s Cosmopolitan Patriotism” calls this form of cosmopolitanism in Kantian thought as a moral cosmopolitanism (Kleingeld 2003: 301). She defines it as a form of cosmopolitanism in which all human beings as the members of a single moral community have moral obligations to each other regardless of their nationality, religion, ethnicity, language and so on. Allen W. Wood in “Kant’s Philosophy of History” says that individuals being part of the “kingdom of ends” are necessarily part of the world community (Kant 2006: 261). He basically suggests that the Kantian conception of cosmopolitanism as a kingdom of ends corresponds to a world community in which people as self-autonomous and moral entities freely interact and associate with each other in a systematic combination.

Unlike the international law of federalism which regulates the interactions among states, cosmopolitan law in Kantian thought gives an order to the interactions between states and individuals (Kleingeld 2003: 302). According to the cosmopolitan right, states and individuals have a right to establish relations with other states and their citizens. Covell argues  that the cosmopolitan ideal of Kant, which entails that states and individuals can interact with each other freely in the world, was revolutionary in his time (Covell 1998: 143-144). Covell points out that unlike the realist and internationalist paradigms of Hobbes and Grotius, the Kantian cosmopolitanism offers a universalistic project which prioritizes individual freedom above anything else. According to Covell, Kantian cosmopolitanism holds that any moral imperative of humanity would go beyond any national or international boundary in a state of emergency. Thus, Kantian cosmopolitanism can be interpreted to entail that human freedom and morality are the most important and urgent elements of it. However, the fact that the human morality and freedom become the most primary elements in Kantian cosmopolitanism does not necessarily mean that the cosmopolitan society in Kant is an anarchic Utopia in which every person can do whatever they wish (Gallie 1978: 27). Rather, one should bear in mind that the cosmopolitanism does not necessarily eliminate the universal laws of republican constitutionalism and federalism but, on the contrary, they are embedded in it. Hence, for Kant, the universal laws of cosmopolitanism does not contradict with the laws of republican constitutionalism and federalism but they are compatible with each other. So, when the cosmopolitan ideal of human morality is regarded as the most essential element in cosmopolitanism, the ideals of republican constitutionalism and federalism are not necessarily violated. On the contrary, since the values and laws of republican constitutionalism and federalism are universal, they cohere necessarily with the ideals of cosmopolitanism.

For Kant, cosmopolitanism is an ongoing project that is never fully attainable. Rather, it is a teleological concept that is always to be sought by humanity. In Anthropology Kant says that the idea of cosmopolitan society is not a constitutive principle but a regulative principle that is always to be pursued by humanity (Kant 2006: 174). In this regard, we can associate the Kantian ideal of cosmopolitanism with his ethical ideal of the moral law or the concept of the highest good. In the Critique of Practical Reason, Kant argues that the highest good as the object of the morality of the human being can never be fully attained because the human being is limited and finite in itself (Kant 2002: 108). Put it another way, Kant contends that the human being can never realize the moral law in itself, but it can only progress towards it. Likewise, Pauline Kleingeld in her article “The Development of Kant’s Cosmopolitanism” puts forward that in Kantian political thought moralization is never fully realizable but it is always an approximation (Kleingeld 2014: 72). Hence, Kant observes that the highest good as the ideal of human morality entails that the moral agent does always strive towards it. Similar to his ethical standpoint, the Kantian notion of cosmopolitanism has a similar framework. According to Kant, cosmopolitan peace and freedom can never be attained fully but it is a teleological end in itself which societies and individuals shall always strive towards.

To sum up, Kantian cosmopolitanism suggests that individuals as moral agents can interact with other agents on earth peacefully on the basis of the universal principles of equality, justice and freedom. Further, it is envisaged to be an ongoing process of constructing a peaceful environment on a global scale to which individuals and states participate by cultivating themselves through the universal and rational ideals of humanity.

 

5. The Role of Moral Progress in the Realization of the Cosmopolitan Ideal

Up to this point we have discussed the three-stage development of societies towards the cosmopolitan ideal of peace and freedom. In the remainder of this paper, my aim will be to explain the method for realizing this goal. It is clearly evident that, for Kant, the cosmopolitan ideal of permanent peace and freedom cannot be achieved simply by war, political overthrow, or revolution etc. First of all, Kant bluntly condemns war as an irrational act that should be pursued as a method for achieving permanent peace, by arguing that it is barbaric, unsophisticated, and brutal. In the Towards Perpetual Peace he writes,

We view with great disdain the way in which savages cling to their lawless freedom, preferring to fight continually amongst one another rather than submit to a lawful coercion that they themselves establish, and thereby favoring mad freedom over rational freedom. We consider this a barbaric, unrefined, and a brutish denigration of humanity (Kant, 2006, 8:354, p. 78).

Kant describes the state of war as a lawless or irrational freedom and calls it a depraved state of humanity. Rather, he argues that instead of fighting brutally with each other, communities should establish themselves as lawfully free nations and seek to cooperate with each other under the legal concepts of rational justice and freedom. Jean Francois Drolet, in his article "Nietzsche, Kant, the Democratic State, and War," emphasizes that war in Kantian political thought is a phenomenon of an alienation of the self from itself and the world in general, and he argues that this can only be overcome through a rational union of people (Drolet, 2013, p. 34). Furthermore, Kant points out that war is not a means to achieve universal or cosmopolitan law, suggesting that war cannot be associated with the universal law (Kant, 2006, 8:355, p. 79-80). In other words, Kant argues that war is not a normative and legislative concept and therefore it is not a legal and rational way to pursue one’s rights. Therefore, for Kant, an individual or a state cannot gain its universal right by means of war. In this sense, Kant excludes war from the basis of normativity and legislation, by arguing that it is not a legitimate way to seek permanent peace and freedom.

Similarly, Kant does not recognize political overthrow or revolution as a legitimate and appropriate way to create permanent peace and freedom. Some of his remarks about revolution in "An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment?" and in the Metaphysics of Morals suggest that legislative and moral progress toward perpetual peace can only be achieved through gradual reform, but not through revolution or overthrow (Kant, 2006, 8:36, p. 18; Kant, 2006, 6:322, p. 120; Kant, 2006, 6:322, p. 121; Kant, 2006, 6:355, p. 148-149). Kant clearly disregards sudden and revolutionary change as a means of constructing perpetual peace by arguing that perpetual peace can only be achieved by following strictly rational principles and gradual progress.

At this juncture, it is aptly necessary to focus on what gradual progress and reform would actually mean in Kant’s political theory. If we return to the introductory part of this article, we can readily see that the Kantian idea of gradual progress can be associated with the moral and rational growth of individuals. In other words, Kant believes that it is the moral progress of individuals that enables societies to move towards cosmopolitan peace and freedom. However, Kant believes that humanity in modern times is extremely immature in terms of creating a peaceful and free cosmopolitan society. In "An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment?" Kant argues that humanity is in an immature state which avoids them to think rationally and freely. Kant points out that people lack the courage to use their own reason since they rely on the guidance and direction of others (Kant, 2006, 8:35, p. 17). Thus, Kant explains that the main reason for humanity’s immaturity in using its own reason is laziness and cowardice (Kant, 2006, 8:35, p. 17). In this regard, Kant condemns the fact that poeple are guided by other authorities such as the church, experts, or technological advances. Furthermore, in the "Idea for a Universal History," Kant points out that humanity is premature in terms of morality and argues that it can only be cultivated through education (Kant, 2006, 8:26, p. 12). He argues that the terms civilization and progress cannot simply be associated with developments in art and culture or social politeness or decency, but they should primarily be associated with moral cultivation. In this sense, Kant points to the central role of morality in the progress of humanity and civilization. Thus, according to Kant, every individual is obligated to achieve moral autonomy through his rational efforts to understand the idea of freedom. In other words, each individual must rationally deal with freedom and construct himself as an autonomous person. However, as DiCenso further points out, Kant holds that religious and political authorities in the modern era abuse the freedom and autonomy of individuals in such a way that they claim to be guardians of the people (DiCenso, 2011, p. 49-50). In other words, as Kant says, political authorities authorize people in a way that they inhibit their natural and moral development.

As a way out of this moral regress on the societal level, in "An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment?" Kant basically calls people to wake up from the slumber of not using their own reason (Kant, 2006, 8:35, p. 17). In this regard, when Kant exclaims "Sapere Aude!", he seems to be asking people to reflect on the universal concepts of justice, equality, and freedom that they possess as an a priori potential. In other words, Kant states that only by enlightening individuals about the universal ideals of humanity can societies progress towards the cosmopolitan ideal of peace and freedom. At this juncture, it is appropriate to say that Kant observes a direct connection between the microcosmic level of moral improvement in terms of the ideals of freedom and justice and the macrocosmic possibility of a free and just society. In this sense, Covell and Gallie say that peace is not a natural phenomenon, but a construction of humanity (Covell, 1998, p. 69 and Gallie, 1978, p. 35). In this sense, they both refer to the active role of individuals in creating peace and freedom. Similarly, in her lectures on Kant’s political philosophy, Hannah Arendt points out that the individual is the fundamental agent in the Kantian conception of social and political progress (Arendt, 1982, p. 58). Arendt argues that in Kantian moral philosophy, any social or political progress can only be achieved through the progress of individuals. Kant’s call to wake up from slumber, thus, seems to be an attempt to revive the sense of moral progress in individuals which can be viewed as the ultimate way/method for achieving the ideal of cosmopolitan peace and freedom.

However, as Kant initially argued that it is the civil society that provides the means for the moral development of its individuals/citizens, [8] he does not assume that human agents can enhance their moral capacities on their own. Instead, Kant suggests that the rational and moral imprvement of individuals necessarily rely on the societal practices that aim to provide the means for moral education and enligtenment. As James DiCenso argues in Kant, Religion and Politics, moral freedom cannot be constructed individually, but only within a society (DiCenso, 2011, p. 46). Similarly, J. G. Murphy in Kant: The Philosophy of Right argues that there is a direct connection between individual freedom and the freedom of society in Kantian political theory. Murphy says that in Kant, the freedom of the individual and the freedom of society are strictly interdependent (Murphy, 1994, p. 127). He basically argues that, according to Kant, the freedom of society can only be shaped by individuals and the freedom of individuals can only be enabled in a peaceful and free civil society. By this means, Kant ultimately suggests that societies can move towards the idea of cosmopolitan peace and freedom by providing the means for the moral development of individuals/citizens through the universal concepts of justice, equality and freedom.

 

6. Conclusion

In conclusion, Kantian ideal of cosmopolitan peace and freedom appears to be an ongoing process of progressing towards the ideals of justice, equality, and liberty which is evident in the three-stage development of society, namely republican constitutionalism, federalism, and cosmopolitanism. However, the main purpose of this paper has been to show that the moral growth and progress of the individual with respect to the universal ideals of justice, equality and freedom has a central role in the realization of this cosmopolitan ideal. In this regard, it has been pointed out that the moral education and enlightenment of individuals regarding the universal ideals of justice and freedom, enhances the possibility of achieving cosmopolitan peace and freedom. However, since Kant believes that the moral progress of individuals cannot be achieved by moral agents themselves, but is only possible within society, he basically proposes that the idea of the moral progress of individuals should be the primary goal of societies as the most important step in the process of realizing the cosmopolitan ideal of peace and freedom.

 

Notes

[1] In the "Idea of a Universal History," Kant states that man is not an instinctive being who would simply act mechanically, but a rational being who has a free will to act and think (Kant 2006: 5). Hence, Kant assumes that man can create and produce everything from himself and is not dependent on any other inner knowledge or authority. In Kant and Modern Political Philosophy, Katrin Flikschuh points out that the Kantian conception of man as an autonomous entity that produces and constructs everything it has itself is in line with the liberal conception of the 'self' (Flikschuh, 2000, p. 18). In this sense, we can say that, in Kant's view, the individual is not passively determined by conditions, but he freely determines himself. Thus, it would be appropriate to say that Kant believes that society is not an arbitrary organization, but it is constructed by the free will and reason of individuals.

[2] Gallie argues that Kant is not a pacifist philosopher but he regards war as the greatest evil for human societies (Gallie, 1978, p. 21-22).

[3] In Towards Perpetual Peace Kant says that the republican constitutionalism is the only form of government that originates from the pure concept of right (Kant, 2006, 8:351, p. 75).

[4] In this sense, the Kantian project of republican constitutionalism stands in contrast to the pragmatist and utilitarian projects of societies that merely pursue their self-interest (Waldron, 2006, p. 179).

[5] This distinction Kant makes between the active and the passive citizens might appear to be non-egalitarian. However, Kant offers that the active citizens are so reasonable and moral that they would not violate the rights of the passive citizens and they would consider the rights of the passive citizens. Kant also suggests that every person has the right and the opportunity to be a moral and rational agent who has the right to choose. In other words, Kant states that active citizenship is an open and ongoing process that includes every person who grows morally and rationally. Therefore, Kant proposes that republican constitutionalism would guarantee the representation of every member of society on an equal basis.

[6] See also Covell (1998) who argues that Kantian federalism, based on the universal laws of justice, liberty, and equality, includes all nations regardless of ethnicity, race, or religion (Cowell, 1998, p. 146). Covell asserts that Kantian federalism aims to eliminate differences among states and essentially to unite them under the common ideals of justice, equality, and liberty.

[7] Kant, 1997, 4:434, 41.

[8] Kant argues in the “Idea for a Universal History” that civil society enhances the moral and rational development of individuals, by leading them into the state of “lawful freedom” that is beyond a brutish, and unrefined way of life in the state of nature (Kant, 2006, 8:354, p. 78).

 

References

 

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