Volume 20, Issue 2, Spring 2016
Patricia I. Vieira
Kant’s History of the Future
This essay discusses Immanuel Kant’s project of perpetual peace. Kant runs into several difficulties in this undertaking, a series of “political antinomies” such as the opposing goals of nature or providence and of individuals, and the competing models of a federation of states or a world state to enforce perpetual peace. I argue that cosmopolitan right is Kant’s answer to the inconsistencies of his political philosophy and of his philosophy of history. Cosmopolitanism brings the individual back into historical development by merging the political rights each person enjoys within a state with the relentless progress of the human race as a whole. Further, it provides a transition from a federation of states to a global political system of rights. I contend that cosmopolitanism can be regarded as the political supplement to the categorical imperative that applies universally to all rational beings.