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Democratic Peace Theory. A Philosophical Reconsideration


"In the last three decades political philosophers, historians, and international relations scholars have widely debated the so called Democratic Peace Theory (DPT), i.e. the fact that liberal democracies have rarely, if ever, fought wars against each other, and the explanation of this fact. The root of this thesis is to be found in the essay To Perpetual Peace (1795) where Kant argued that the main cause of war is the injustice of some political institutions. Despite the impressive amount of work carried out by contemporary researchers, there is still no agreed upon definition of the thesis, no clarity on the factors relevant to explain the democratic “separate peace,” no common terrain of argumentation. We hold that a superficial knowledge of Kant's political thought led at times DPT scholars to misapprehensions that set the contemporary discussion on the wrong path. As a result, the debate seems to be deteriorating into a Lakatosian regressive research programme. The present project intends to improve this state of affairs by trying out a new methodological approach at the intersection of philosophy and social sciences. We aim at: 1) a better understanding of Kant's view of the causal factors leading to perpetual peace; 2) the identification of the causal apparatus assumed in the recent DPT literature; 3) the comparison of such apparatus with Kant's original theory; 4) the identification of those assumptions that set the contemporary debate on the wrong path, 5) a modified and improved definition of DPT, 6) an empirical check of this new defintition."

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Piazzale Aldo Moro 7
00185 Roma

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Activity type
Research Organisations
Administrative Contact
Archibugi Daniele (Prof.)
EU contribution
€ 306 598,50