Kant’s Practical Dilemma in On the Disagreement between Morals and Politics in Relation to Perpetual Peace

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Kant’s Practical Dilemma in On the Disagreement between Morals and Politics in Relation to Perpetual Peace

In Appendix 1 of Kant’s Political Writings, Kant addresses the dilemma of reconciling theories of political moralism with theories of political realism (i.e., between morals and politics) to achieve perpetual peace in practice. Kant explains that perpetual peace can only be reached through reason, as opposed to coercion or political expediency: “there can be no half measures here; it is no use devising hybrid solutions such as a pragmatically conditioned right halfway between right and utility” (125). The crux of his argument on the relationship between politics and morals is characterized by the claim “all politics must bend the
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Perhaps the simplest difference between the two ideologies surrounds the question of whether or not immoral means are justified in achieving political ends. Given this difference in ideology, it is worthwhile to consider the difference of principles attributed to each actor. In addition to clarifying Kant’s argument that is inherently wrong to alter the practice of morality for the sake of practicing strong politics, the distinction between a political moralist and a moral politician can provide insight about the reasoning for certain actions. To do this, Kant distinguishes between a material principle and a formal principle. A material principle is the end of practical reason while the formal principle “fests on man’s freedom in his external relations (122).” The material principle is associated with the political moralist, and the formal principle is associated with the moral politician. Kant gives precedence to the formal principle because it is more reasonable in comparison to the material principle considering that adherence to morality has absolute practical value. The true formal principle of the moral politician according to Kant is devoid from personal motives

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