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The Moral Standing of the State in International Politics

A Kantian Account

A Kantian account of the moral personality of the state and its political and philosophical implications.

Kant’s moral and political philosophy has been indispensable to the development of ethical thinking in international relations. This study argues that Kant’s theory of the state is crucial to understanding the notion of the oft-cited concept of the moral agency of the state. For Kant, the state not only possesses duties but also has inalienable rights. In this book, Milla Emilia Vaha explores the implications of the moral state, examining the status of several contemporary states and their ethical behavior. Vaha argues that in order to move towards peace, every state must be understood as having moral standing that must be respected in a morally imperfect world.

224 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2

Political Philosophy Now

Philosophy: Political Philosophy

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"Vaha’s book offers a comprehensive Kantian theory of the moral personality of the state situated in the ongoing climate crisis that challenges widespread assumptions about Kant’s ideas of international right. Her in-depth critique of the exclusionary practices in the international society shows that the assertion of the superiority of liberal states is incompatible with a truly Kantian conception of the equal moral standing of all political communities."
--Macarena Marey, University of Buenos Aires

Macarena Marey, University of Buenos Aires

"The author provides us with a valuable effort to address a key normative puzzle in international politics, what she labels the “Moral Standing Problem” in which states are assigned responsibilities without having any of the correlative rights associated with moral agency. Through a deep engagement with the practical philosophy of Immanuel Kant, Vaha provides a novel account of how we might conceptualize the state as a complete moral person with a right to exist, and illustrates the value of her account by addressing the question of the international community’s obligations arising from the potential physical extinction of low-lying insular states."
--Harry D. Gould, Florida International University

Harry D. Gould, Florida International University

Table of Contents

Note on references and translations
Chapter One: The Moral Standing Problem in the study of world politics
Chapter Two: Kant and the metaethical conception of the state
Chapter Three: As to what relations among human beings and states ought to be
Chapter Four: Rights and duties of the state
Chapter Five: Order and justice in the world of imperfect states
Chapter Six: On contested continuity of states

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