Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO)
To scholars of International Relations, this book is a veritable myth buster. Focusing on Immanuel Kant’s philosophy of human rights, peace and progress, Luigi Caranti tries to save Kant from flawed readings. He bridges two distinct literatures: contemporary political theory drawing on isolated and often misrepresented elements of Kant’s philosophy, and hermeneutical readings of Kant’s political philosophy that do not deal with contemporary political issues. One might expect that the refutation of common ideas of e.g. Kantian human rights or a Kantian 'democratic peace' results in the downplaying of Kant’s current political significance. Yet, to the contrary, Caranti argues that a more adequate application of Kant’s philosophy provides a better foundation for considering the major political challenges of our times. For instance, he contrasts the supposedly Kantian democratic peace model of e.g. Doyle and Russett with a more truly Kantian model and argues that the latter has a better account of the domestic and international conditions for peace. Caranti argues how Kant should be understood but also reviews extensive literatures on the subjects of human rights, peace and progress in which Kant’s work has been invoked. This makes the book a surprisingly informative and thought-provoking introduction to these topics as well as to Kant’s political legacy. At a time when the application of Western enlightenment thinkers to 'post-Western' global politics is subject to substantial critique, this argument may seem misplaced. However, Caranti takes stock of exactly this critique and makes the case for Kant’s persistent universal relevance. To critics of Western political thought, this provides a better starting point for debate than the typical representations of Kant and his compatriots in the fields of IR and political science.