The democratic peace theory posits that democracies are hesitant to engage in armed conflict with other identified democracies. Those who dispute this theory often do so on grounds that it conflates correlation with causation , and that the academic definitions of 'democracy' and 'war' can be manipulated so as to manufacture an artificial trend. Though the democratic peace theory was not rigorously or scientifically studied until the s, the basic principles of the concept had been argued as early as the s in the works of philosopher Immanuel Kant and political theorist Thomas Paine. Kant foreshadowed the theory in his essay Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch written in , although he thought that a world with only constitutional republics was only one of several necessary conditions for a perpetual peace. Kant's theory was that a majority of the people would never vote to go to war, unless in self-defense. Therefore, if all nations were republics, it would end war, because there would be no aggressors.
An increasing amount of research is being done on the means of peacebuilding, but there is a severe lack of constructive research and debate on what the ends of peacebuilding should be. The broad scope and range of methods of peacebuilding have here been developed but these lack a common theoretical framework for the coordination of their principles and the assessment of their results. Therefore the aim with the Liberal Peace and the Ethics if Peacebuilding project is to create a framework that would establish a conceptual, empirical and thematic basis for the ethical debate on peacebuilding. When pursuing this aim the project sought to focus on the following three objectives: improve the conceptual basis of the aim of peacebuilding; apply the conceptual basis to specific cases of interventions; synthesize the conceptual and the empirical dimensions of ethics in peacebuilding focusing on the particular issues of culture, power and gender. The project was organized along three sub-projects which together formed the structure of the project:. Each of the three sub-projects were hallmarked by an international workshop, bringing together experts and scholars from the disciplines of IR, philosophy, political science, economy, sociology, social anthropology and psychology in a common project. The Workshop series ended with a seminar in Oslo where the findings were presented by the project members to the wider public.
Of the two main variants of the democratic peace theory, the structural account argues that it is the institutions of representative government, which hold elected officials and decision-makers accountable to a wide electorate, that make war a largely unattractive option for both the government and its citizens. Although some scholars regard the institutional and normative explanations as mutually exclusive, a much more intuitive and persuasive defence of the democratic peace theory emerges from combining these two viewpoints. A great deal of criticism of the democratic peace theory is focused on methodology. It is argued that the subjectivity of the specifics definitions adopted in such highly empirical studies is likely to significantly affect the results, making it difficult to validate the theory with certainty.