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Granting Amnesty for Peace: Assessing the Possibility of a Just Peace in Kant’s Doctrine of Right

Granting Amnesty for Peace: Assessing the Possibility of a Just Peace in Kant’s Doctrine of Right

Robert Patrick Whelan, “Granting Amnesty for Peace: Assessing the Possibility of a Just Peace in Kant’s Doctrine of Right,” Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia 75, no. 1 (2019): 51–84,

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Granting Amnesty for Peace: Assessing the Possibility of a Just Peace in Kant’s Doctrine of Right

Type Journal Article
Author Robert Patrick Whelan
Rights © 2019 Aletheia - Associação Científica e Cultural | © 2019 Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia
Volume 75
Issue 1
Pages 51-84
Publication Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia
ISSN 0870-5283
Date 2019
DOI 10.17990/RPF/2019_75_1_0051
Language English
Abstract Kant’s ‘principle of right’ claims that individual freedom can only be realized through the construction of law. As “punishment is a categorical imperative” (6:331) failure to punish those who violate public laws constitutes a grave wrong. Yet, in the ‘right of nations’ Kant claims that amnesties must be granted when wrongdoing occurs between states (6: 349). How can it be that within a civil society amnesty should not be granted but that among nations it should be? There has been little attempt to reconcile Kant’s endorsement of amnesty with the principle of right. My first task is to show the conditions under which the use of amnesties can be justified. However, the second aim is to show that granting states a ‘right to secede’ from the global civil condition renders amnesties a tool of impunity. If states are permitted to forgo their commitment to multilateral treaties, then international prosecutions cannot be carried out. I conclude by showing that the right to secede is incompatible with the principle of right. From the perspective of transitional justice, rejecting the right to secede is desirable as it shows that non-consequentialist considerations must bear on the design of domestic and foreign policy.
Date Added 24/04/2019, 19:27:39
Modified 24/04/2019, 20:30:23


  • amnesty,
  • domination,
  • impunity,
  • international law,
  • principle of right


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