Democratic international relations: Montesquieu and the theoretical foundations of democratic peace theory
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The article examines the extent to which Montesquieu's doux commerce thesis, which claims that commerce leads to softening of manners and therefore favours international peace, presents a challenge to democratic peace theory. It argues that Montesquieu's claim that peace may be due to commerce, and not democracy, provides a theoretical challenge to those scholars who argue that there is a Kantian virtuous triangle of democracy. The practical implication of this theoretical challenge concerns the way democratic peace theory has influenced the practice of international politics, especially American foreign policy. The article argues that Montesquieu's doux commerce thesis mediates between the contending claims of realism and liberal internationalism over the merits of democratisation as an essential means for securing peace.
Australian Journal of International Affairs
Copyright 2012 Taylor & Francis. This is the author-manuscript version of this paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.
History and Philosophy of the Social Sciences