Article/Publication Details

A Pluralistic World of States and a Vision of Global Unity: To- ward Kant’s and Habermas’ Versions of Cosmopolitanism

(Original title: Pluralitní svět států a vize globální jednoty. Ke Kantově a Habermasově verzi kosmopolitismu)
Filozofia, 2015, vol. 70, No 2, pp. 81-93.
Language: Czech
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The article deals with cosmopolitanism of Immanuel Kant and Jürgen Habermas. In his perpetual peace project, Kant endeavored to overcome the modern state system which has been prone to war. However, this project is confusing due to Kant’s contradictory attitude to a world state. Although the pluralist system of sovereign states can be securely surmounted only by universal “Völkerstaat” or “Weltrepublik”, these political entities raise concerns about unification and despotism, originally connected with a universal monarchy. The similar problem also becomes apparent in Habermas’ version of cosmopolitanism. Even though Habermas ultimately argues that a world state is to be avoided, his conception is driven to it by the universalism of human rights, which are directed against political particularism, as well as by the politics of peace, requiring the establishment of an effective power at the supranational level of a global political system. Furthermore, in this multilevel political system its lowest level, i.e. the level of nation states is suppressed. Kant’s and Habermas’ contradictory positions reflect a more fundamental tension between plurality and unity which affects modern cosmopolitanism, frequently criticized as anti-pluralistic. Hence, the aim of the article is to clarify contradictions in Kant’s and Habermas’ conceptions in order to shed some critical light on modern cosmopolitanism as such.


Cosmopolitanism, Immanuel Kant, Jürgen Habermas, Modern state, Perpetual peace, Plurality, Unity, World state

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