As the rival viewpoints given in the previous chapters suggest, just as there are many philosophical approaches to war, so there are many philosophical approaches to peace. It would thus be invidious, not to say impossible, to attempt to cover them all in one relatively brief chapter, and so I will not even attempt to do so. Rather, my strategy in what follows will be to outline what I take to be the two most significant philosophical approaches to peace, and to seek to offer an interpretation and at least a provisional evaluation of them. I would emphasize also that I will restrict myself here to ‘philosophical’ approaches to peace, understood, to be sure, fairly broadly, so much of the very large (and sometimes very impressive) wider literature in what is often called ‘peace studies’ will not be referred to at all. Note also that in saying that these are the most significant philosophical approaches I am not suggesting that they are necessarily the most influential — though the second certainly has been very influential recently — and clearly there are many others. In conclusion, I will then offer a thought about where this discussion might leave the question of thinking philosophically about peace.


International Relation Regime Type Political Thought Philosophical Approach International Order 


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  1. 1.
    There is no overall historical treatment of pacifism as a phenomenon. Good, though more limited, treatments would include P. Brock and N. Young, Pacifism in the Twentieth Century (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1999)Google Scholar
  2. and, especially, Martin Caedel, Thinking about Peace and War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987), chapter 7, where Caedel identifies five different types (arguably, in fact, ideal types) of pacifism. Caedel has also written three excellent studies of pacifism in the UK: Pacifism in Britain, 1914–1945 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980), The Origins of War Prevention: The British Peace Movement and International Relations 1730–1854 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996) and Semi-Detached Idealists: The British Peace Movement and International Relations 1854–1945 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000).Google Scholar
  3. Excellent philosophical treatments of a pacifist position can be found in Richard Holmes, On War and Morality (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989) — which also strongly advocates a certain kind of pacifism to which I will return — and Jan Narveson, ‘Pacifism: A Philosophical Analysis’, Ethics 75, no. 4 (1965): 259–271 — which most certainly does not. I will come back to explicitly Christian justifications for pacifism in a moment.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 3.
    Gandhi’s non-violence was, as I read it, very much a strategy — though I do not doubt his sincerity and his general abomination of violence — and in that sense not a principled objection to violence as such. At the very least, he was often ambiguous about how far his ‘pacifism’ went. For discussions, see Caedel, Thinking about Peace and War, 158–159, and for a rather contrary view, see Bikhu Parekh, Gandhi’s Political Philosophy: A Critical Examination (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1989).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 10.
    Again, excellent discussions can be found in Skinner, The Foundations of Modern Political Thought. On Erasmus, Ronald Bainton’s Erasmus of Christendom (New York: Scribners, 1969) is also extremely useful.Google Scholar
  6. 12.
    A superb study of Kant’s view of these questions can be found in chapter 2 of Gallie, Philosophers of Peace and War, and for a superb study of the general Enlightenment context, Peter Gay’s The Enlightenment: An Interpretation, 2 vols (New York: Wildwood House, 1970) cannot be bettered.Google Scholar
  7. 16.
    For the best general treatment of this, see Geoffery Best, Humanity in Warfare: The Modern History of the International Law of Armed Conflicts (London: Allen and Unwin, 1978).Google Scholar
  8. 17.
    For a wonderful illustration of this, as well as a superb discussion of the evolution of this sensibility in modern thought as a whole, see Geoffery Best, Humanity in Warfare (New York: Columbia University Press, 1980) and Law and War (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1996).Google Scholar
  9. 20.
    A classic discussion is Geritt W. Gong, The Standard of Civilization in International Society (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1984).Google Scholar
  10. 22.
    There is now an immense literature on this. I could not even begin to scratch the surface if I were to write another book. The modern locus classicus is Michael Doyle, ‘Kant, Liberal Legacies and Foreign Affairs’, Philosophy and Public Affairs 12 (Summer and Fall, 1983): 205–235, 323–353 and ‘Liberalism and World Politics’, American Political Science Review, 80, no. 4 (1986).Google Scholar
  11. A critical response is Christopher Layne, ‘Kant or Cant: The Myth of the Democratic Peace’, International Security 19, no. 2 (Autumn, 1994): 5–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 23.
    There is a good deal to be said about the extent to which Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment understandings of the character of a regime (most obviously in Montesquieu and Tocqueville) draw upon ancient ideas about the ‘character’ of a regime and to what extent they differ from them. The most obvious difference is the emphasis, certainly in both Plato and Aristotle, of the equivalence between the soul and the city — Plato’s discussion of the declining character of the souls/cities in books 8 and 9 of the Republic is an example — of which there is no real equivalent. However, there are other differences as well. For good discussions of the idea of the regime and its effect in antiquity, see, famously, Kurt Von Fritz, The Theory of the Mixed Constitution in Antiquity (New York: Columbia University Press, 1954)Google Scholar
  13. and an even older classic, Alfred Zimmern, The Greek Commonwealth (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1911). Much contemporary writing from the friends and admirers of the late Leo Strauss has also stressed the importance of the notion of the regime and has also considered its modern imitators. Good examples would be Thomas Pangle’s interpretive essay to his (excellent) translation of The Laws (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980). For his take on the Enlightenment version, see his Montesquieu’s Philosophy of Liberalism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1973).Google Scholar
  14. A much more recent discussion, specifically on Aristotle, but very good on the idea of the regime and its significance, is Bernard Yack, The Problems of a Political Animal (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993).Google Scholar
  15. 25.
    This point is made by Oakeshott in On Human Conduct: see the discussion on pp. 245–251. Accounts of Montesquieu that would broadly share this view (though from very different perspectives) would include Judith Shklar, Montesquieu (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987)Google Scholar
  16. and John Plamenatz, Man and Society Vol. 1 (Harlow: Longman, 1961), see pp. 284–291.Google Scholar
  17. Accounts that would be rather different would include Thomas Pangle, Montesquieu’s Philosophy of Liberalism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1974).Google Scholar
  18. 27.
    For an excellent discussion of Marxist accounts of international relations, see Vendulka Kublakova and Andrew Cruikshank, Marxism and International Relations (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989).Google Scholar
  19. 30.
    Implied, at least, in Fareed Zakaria’s recent The Future of Freedom (New York: Norton, 2003).Google Scholar
  20. 31.
    The growth of interest in ‘republican’ political thought, its history, character and contemporary provenance is, of course, one of the great stories of the last 40 years of intellectual history and political theory. Probably the two leading historians of ideas responsible for much of this recapturing are J. G. A. Pocock — especially in The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003 [1975]) — and Quentin Skinner, much of whose work deals with republicanism in some form or another, but whose pioneering historical work in The Foundations of Modern Political Thought, 2 vols (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978) bore specific fruit in Liberty before Liberalism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997). The dominant voice in contemporary republican political thought is probably Phillip Pettit, whose Republicanism: A Theory of Freedom and Government (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997) was the first fully worked out contemporary appropriation of the ideas of classical republicanism and who has recently moved into thinking about the international implications of this, in his ‘A Republican Law of Peoples’ in the European Journal of Political Theory, 9, no. 1 (January 2010). Other scholars who have articulated a distinctive republican position in international relations are Nick Onuf in The Republican Legacy in International Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997)Google Scholar
  21. and Daniel Deudney in Bounding Power: Republican Security Theory from the Polis to the Global Village (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007).Google Scholar

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