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Theories of Dynamic Cosmopolitanism in Modern European History


Georg Cavallar

It is often assumed that cosmopolitan thinkers since the Renaissance have simply adopted and refined concepts from classical antiquity. This study argues that modern European cosmopolitanism should be perceived as a unique phenomenon, distinct from Greek and Roman forms of cosmopolitan thinking. One key feature is its dynamism, or the idea of change built into modern theories of cosmopolitanism.

Covering the period from the 1530s to the 1920s, this book investigates various manifestations of cosmopolitanism, including normative individualism, the dawn of historical thinking, and the dynamic conceptions of law and rights and of the international community. It analyses the international legal theories of selected authors from Francisco de Vitoria to Austrian lawyers Heinrich Lammasch and Alfred Verdross. The author focuses in particular on the development of hospitality rights and the right to immigration, republicanism and cosmopolitanism, and cosmopolitan education.

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Chapter 4: Kant’s dynamic republican cosmopolitanism: Beyond the democratic peace proposition


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Kant’s dynamic republican cosmopolitanism: Beyond the democratic peace proposition

Previous chapters have shown that theories of cosmopolitanism in early modern European history usually focused on transborder issues. Kant is one of the early cosmopolitans who stressed the domestic dimension of cosmopolitanism. The starting point of this chapter is a criticism of Michael W. Doyle and his interpretation of Kant’s political philosophy. In the first section, I will argue that Kant’s claim in the first definitive article is different from Doyle’s reading as well as methodologically complex. I distinguish between Kant’s pragmatic argument (his democratic peace proposition) and his a priori or transcendental claim. Both are distinct from Doyle’s interpretation, which emphasizes above all institutional restraint and shared cultural norms. The second section presents an alternative and I hope more convincing interpretation of the first definitive article. My main argument against Doyle is that he takes Kant’s transcendental claims as statements that can be verified empirically. I propose that we drop Doyle’s juxtaposition of liberal and illiberal as a fallacy of essentialism. Kant’s distinction between republican and despotic regimes is a methodological abstraction belonging to ideal theory (the system of rights). Kantian nonideal theory (his political philosophy) sees the distinction among states as “a matter of degree rather than kind”.1 States and their constitutions can be located along a continuum stretching from the apriori ideal of a republic to totalitarian systems. The third section points out that Kant offers convincing...

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