HPhil Seminar: December 7, 2023

December 7, 2023 5:00pm

The HPhil (History of Philosophy) Research Group of the Centre of Philosophy of the University of Lisbon announces the 2023/24 edition of its permanent seminar on the history of philosophy, devoted to the presentation of conferences by renowned specialists while also creating opportunities to emerging scholars, aiming to promote advanced studies in groundbreaking debates and the permanent training of its academic community.

In this session of the seminar, Georg Cavallar (University of Vienna) will present a paper entitled “War, peace, and justice: Kant and the Russo-Ukrainian War”.

The session will take place on December 7, 2023 at 5 p.m., in the Room C201.J (Room Mattos Romão, Department of Philosophy). The entrance is free.



Everything seems so straightforward: International law has absorbed Kant’s claim or imperative to avoid war and promote peace. This imperative is expressed most clearly in a well-known passage in the Metaphysics of Morals: ‘[M]oral-practical reason within us pronounces the following irresistible veto: There shall be no war, either between individual human beings in the state of nature, or between separate states […] For war is not the way in which anyone should pursue one’s rights’ (VI, 354; see also VIII, 356). This veto is ‘irresistible’, or unwiderstehlich, which means that it does not allow for exceptions. The last sentence in the quotation points out Kant’s philosophical argument: war is the opposite of justice, of a just, legal procedure, of mediation or of a trial and thus incapable of obtaining one’s rights. Kant replaces the paradigm of a formally conducted war, dominant in 18c law of nations and legal theory, by the paradigm of peace. Yet issues get more intricate or complicated if we dive down deeper. You may be familiar with the joke on German philosophy by George Bernard Shaw: „Germans dive down deeper – and come up muddier“. This may also be the case if we look at Kant’s texts on war, peace and justice.