Kant's Legacy and the Idea of a Transitional Jus Cosmopoliticum

Postdoctoral fellow Claudio Corradetti has published an article on "Kant's Legacy and the Idea of a Transitional Jus Cosmopoliticum" in Ratio Juris vol. 29 issue 1 pp. 105-121. Read the article at the publisher's webpage.  

Excerpt from the article

At the end of the eighteenth century, when Kant elaborated his major political writings, not many would have thought of history as a cosmopolitan project. Kant (2009, 9–23), however, dedicated nine propositions to elucidate his views in the “Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Aim.” Skepticism in this respect is referred to with the Abbé de St. Pierre's and Rousseau's “ridiculed” cosmopolitanism “because they believed its execution was too near” (ibid., 17), so that “universal world history,” says Kant, should rather be understood in terms of “a regular course of improvement of state constitutions” (ibid., 21).1 For Kant the cosmopolitan ideal represents a long-term project. This is due to the fact that he not only thinks that it is contradictory to “justify an offensive war” (Kant 2012a, 8:355, 103)2 by recourse to principles of law, but also because “what applies under natural law to human beings in the lawless condition […] cannot also apply to states under international right (since, as states, they already have an internal legal constitution and have thus outgrown the coercion by which others subject them to a broader legal constitution” (Kant 2006b, 8:355, 80). It is by attempting to solve this conundrum that the hypothesis of a “transitional” interpretation of Kant's cosmopolitanism gains legitimacy. However, even though there are already some “transitional” interpretations of Kant, a question remains with regard to what might have been the most legitimate transnational arena compatible with Kant's notion of state sovereignty.3

In the following sections, I will therefore defend the idea that Kant’s argument relies on a distinct view for the “transitional” character of cosmopolitan law which defines a normative space that avoids the danger of a world state. According to this suggested interpretation, the relation between cosmopolitan law and its institutional instantiations is explained by the function the former plays as a “freedom generating” advancement. Among those most relevant to the argument I offer here, both Kleingeld and Brown are worth mentioning. However, my interpretation differs from theirs in important ways. Whereas Kleingeld attributes to Kant’s change of mind the institutional shift from a weak noncoercive league to a coercive state of states, and Brown emphasizes the practical implementation of cosmopolitan law as a form of legal transition, I will attempt to reconstruct and explain how the multiple institutional entities Kant refers to are to be considered parts of a single pattern. This hypothesis justifies the idea of an inherent transitional character of transnational improvements brought about by cosmopolitan right.


The full article can be read at the publisher's webpage.  


Tags: Human Rights
Published Feb. 26, 2016 4:15 PM - Last modified Feb. 26, 2016 4:15 PM