Finding a Reasonable Foundation for Peace
Languages of publication
Can world peace come about through a world federation of governments? Is growing agreement and appreciation for, throughout the world, the doctrine of equal human rights inevitable? Such questions are raised by Mortimer Adler in How to Think about War and Peace. Adler argues in this book that both are possible, and in doing so he argues that the insights of liberal contract thinkers, particularly Immanuel Kant, are essentially true. Kant argues that each person has the capacity to discover within himself the foundation for human rights because they are self-evident. It follows that over time inequalities and prejudices will disappear, and people will gain the freedom to advance the cause of peace. About this account of the possibility of world peace I ask the question: is it indeed reasonable? For if it is reasonable, it is not reasonable for the reasons that would have been advanced by Aristotle or Plato or their medieval followers. In older political philosophy it is agreement about the unchanging truth of things that can bring peace. To seek the unchanging truth of things, philosophical speculation about God and things divine, is the highest human activity. It is that end to which life in this world is directed, and upon which human flourishing depends. Freedom depends upon our openness to unchanging eternal truth, even more than self-evident rights; the exercise of speculative reasoning allows for political discourse and an open society.
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