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Peace theories are sets of ideas that explain why peace could be maintained in certain periods and contexts of the past and under which circumstances and through which mechanisms it can be preserved in future. Philosophers have pondered for centuries how to pacify the world and avoid warfare—often in response to devastating wars such as the Thirty Years’ War or World War I. Today, it is one of the key questions investigated by international relations scholars.

Since the available space does not suffice to present all peace theories that have been developed and explain how they differ in detail, this entry focuses on four larger bodies of thought that can be considered most influential: peace-by-trade, democratic, imperial, and institutional peace theories. It needs to be noted, ...

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