Please provide a summary of Michael Doyle's “Kant, Liberal Legacies, and Foreign Affairs" article.  

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

There is quite a bit to this article, so I'm going to have to just tell you what I think are the main points.

First, why don't democracies fight one another?

  • People in democracies actually have to pay for their wars and will not want to fight
  • Democracies respect each other
  • Democratic values lead us to not like war

Second, why don't democracies do well dealing with non-democracies?

  • They are too focused on ideology to take advantage of opportunities (wouldn't ally with China vs. USSR)
  • Don't like to support non-democratic allies -- we think it's wrong.
  • Just don't really know how to help the Third World.
jameadows's profile pic

jameadows | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted on

Doyle starts by defining liberalism applied to the domestic society, which he believes involves "negative freedoms," or the absence of authoritarian control, and "positive freedoms," which are the protection of rights such as education and health care. He also identifies participation and representation in the democracy as necessary to liberalism and states that these qualities meet the challenge Kant identified: "To organize a group of rational beings who demand general laws for their survival, but of whom each inclines toward exempting himself." Nonetheless, Doyle states that liberalism has its own internal contradictions, such as the right to property sometimes interfering with the right to opportunity, but he states that more and more countries are turning to liberalism (and provides a long list).

He then turns to the application of liberalism to foreign affairs. He defines liberalism in foreign affairs as "states hav[ing] the right to be free from foreign intervention." In studying past foreign conflicts, he determines that "there exists a significant predisposition against warfare between liberal states." He uses various theories, such as the Realist theory, Hobbesian theory about fear motivating war, and game theory, to understand this situation. Doyle states that Kant's "Perpetual Peace" provides the best explanation of why liberal states tend not to fight against each other, which is that liberal states accept three "definite articles" of peace. These articles are that the civil constitution of the state is republican in nature, that liberal states will over time form peaceful relations with each other, and that liberal states have a "cosmopolitan law" by which they will extend hospitality to foreigners on their soil. He believes that the decline in the hegemony of the U.S., which is a liberal state, might pose problems for foreign affairs. 


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