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Political Research Exchange

Democratisation Without Democracy Promotion: A Kantian Approach

Huw Williams
Cardiff University
Huw Williams
Cardiff University

Over the previous three decades democracy promotion in the 'majority world' or the 'global south' has become a cornerstone of Western foreign policy. It has dovetailed in a forceful way with the state-building agenda that was given new legitimacy following 9/11, as attempts to intervene in order to create more secure institutions in weak and failed states became a security issue - and not just the concern of development scholars. This paper will look at some of the practical arguments and philosophical discourses that have emerged during this period, first concentrating on the state-building literature typified by the work of Francis Fukuyama, which liberal democracy to be the desired outcome. It will then move on to consder some 'strong' cosmopolitan arguments such as those presented by thinkers such Kok-Chor Tan and Thomas Pogge, which have cohered with this political project and that can be interpreted as being broadly in favour of pursing interventionist policies. The central part of the paper will then focus on a critique of such practices and arguments, arguing for a Kantian response to the question of democratization. It will be argued that such a response is implicit in the international theory of John Rawls, and that such a Kantian approach represents a more cautious but ultimately more promising approach towards encouraging democratic change through foreign policy.
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