WEFOUNDL'Homme Moral Oppose A L'Homme Physique de Monsieur R***: Lettres Philosophiques, Ou L'On Refute Le Deisme Du Jour (Classic Reprint) (French Edition)


24 mars 2005 Roger Scruton is a British philosopher equally well known for a number of studies of historical figures in philosophy, such as Spinoza, and for his ultra-conservative political views. (He gave advice to Margaret Thatcher, for example.) A graduate student of mine, Mr. Michael Michau, recently sent me a copy of a brief essay by Professor Scruton that appeared in a journal called Open Democracy and that bears directly on the simultaneously au courant themes of political philosophy confronting the contemporary situation and the bicentenary of Kant’s death ; it is entitled "Kant and the Iraq War."

There is, on the other hand, one short section in The Metaphysical Elements of Justice , Section 56, that might be thought to offer some aid and comfort to the coalition of willing assailants. I see it as the moment, within this work, at which Kant most fully reverts to the spirit of the first part of De Jure Belli ac Pacis , where Grotius acknowledges that, in a total international state of nature when war breaks out, almost anything is permissible. Let me cite the two sentences from this section that seem to me most relevant.

But if this acknowledgement, by Kant, of a right of preventive war under certain circumstances might at first appear, as I have suggested, to offer some comfort to the defenders of the still-recent military assault on Iraq, a closer reading of the text, which focuses on the possibility of a threat by a superior power, not a weaker one, and of the context, which is one of opprobrium directed toward those regimes that remain completely mired in the state of nature, offers only the coldest of comforts to the proponents of belligerency.


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