Res Philosophica

Volume 101, Issue 2, April 2024

Habermas Special Issue

Michael HaidenOrcid-ID
Pages 191-217

Jürgen Habermas
A Political Pacifist?

Jürgen Habermas has defended Germany’s cautious support for Ukraine against the ongoing Russian invasion. Instead of trying to defeat Russia on the battlefield, he argued that Western nations should seek a compromise with the attacker. Critics worried that this would lead to more suffering than the war, encourage further Russian aggression, and ignore the concerns of the Ukrainian population. However, one question that has not been addressed is if Habermas’s pleas are part of a wider pacifist commitment—and if so, what kind of pacifist he is. Examining Habermas’s writings on the Ukraine War, his cosmopolitan views and his idea of a “constitutionalization of international law,” I argue that Habermas can be called a political pacifist—someone who seeks to abolish the institutions that provide the ultimate causes of war. While one can still criticize his vision, it deserves to be taken seriously as a pacifist account.