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Contemporary legal and political philosophy has witnessed the emergence of a new cosmopolitan paradigm, characterised by its determination to defend the relevance and radicalism of Kant's vision of ‘Perpetual Peace’. The protagonists of this paradigm seek to ameliorate the internal tensions in Kant's cosmopolitan ideal and to revise those features that make it unrealistic in contemporary political conditions. This paper revisits Kant's original cosmopolitan vision before surveying two prominent reconstructions of it: John Rawls' ‘law of peoples’ and Jürgen Habermas' ‘postnational constellation’. Our paper offers a provisional assessment of the contemporary state of Kantian cosmopolitanism, through ascertaining how successful Rawls and Habermas are at adapting it to the conditions of the modern world.

Keywords: Habermas; Kant; Rawls; cosmopolitanism; law of peoples; postnational constellation

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2004

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  • Until 2007 the King's Law Journal was known as the King's College Law Journal. It was established in 1990 as a legal periodical publishing scholarly and authoritative Articles, Notes and Reports on legal issues of current importance to both academic research and legal practice. It has a national and international readership, and publishes refereed contributions from authors across the United Kingdom, from continental Europe and further afield (particularly Commonwealth countries and USA). The journal includes a Reviews section containing critical notices of recently published books.
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