Democratization and War

Authored by: Wolfgang Merkel

Routledge Handbook of Democratization

Print publication date:  December  2011
Online publication date:  March  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415573771
eBook ISBN: 9780203148433
Adobe ISBN: 9781136513336


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The complex relation between democracy and war requires a consideration of at least three strands of related research: the empirical, the legal and the ethical. The first strand is the empirical research associated with the ‘democratic peace’ thesis, which has thus far been addressed almost exclusively by International Relations scholars. Although this research uses, at least in part, sophisticated statistical methods, it often relies on a rudimentary understanding of democracy and the interdependent workings of democratic institutions. While these researchers specialize in questions of war and peace, they are hardly democracy scholars. 1 The second strand of research concerns the juridical-normative questions of legality, which belong primarily to the sphere of international law. The third strand belongs to political ethics and concerns moral-philosophical questions about ‘just’ war. This chapter intends to couple the statistical analysis of the democratic peace research with a theoretically substantive comparative democracy research focus, and to connect these to the normative debates occurring in law and philosophy. Thus, following Immanuel Kant, three interlinked questions are addressed: (1) Empirics: What do we know?; (2) Law: What are we allowed to do?; (3) Ethics: What should we do?

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