Cosmopolitanism: A Philosophy for Global Ethics

Stan van Hooft
Copyright Date: 2009
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Cosmopolitanism is a demanding and contentious moral position. It urges us to embrace the whole world into our moral concerns and to apply the standards of impartiality and equity across boundaries of nationality, race, religion or gender in a way that would have been unheard of even fifty years ago. It suggests a range of virtues which the cosmopolitan individual should display: virtues such as tolerance, justice, pity, righteous indignation at injustice, generosity toward the poor and starving, care for the global environment, and the willingness to take responsibility for change on a global scale. This book explains and espouses the values of cosmopolitanism, adjudicates between various forms of cosmopolitanism, and defends it against its critics. Cosmopolitanism has relevance for international distributive justice; peace; human rights; environmental sustainability; protection for minorities, refugees and other oppressed groups; democratic participation; and intercultural tolerance. The book does not aim to impart factual information about global issues or to offer prescriptions for the solution of global problems. Rather, it highlights the ethical issues inherent in such problems and identifies the moral obligations that individuals, multinational corporations, and governments might have in relation to them. While espousing a cosmopolitan form of global ethics, a liberal form of politics, sustainable and just forms of business practice, and an internationalist approach to global conflict and governance, it seeks to present as many sides of the ethical debates as can be supported by reasonable argument. Discussing the work of Kwame Anthony Appiah, Seyla Benhabib, Martha Nussbaum, Thomas Pogge, John Rawls, Amartya Sen, Henry Shue, Peter Singer and others, this book provides a clear and accessible survey of cosmopolitanism and analyses the reality of the rights and responsibilities that it espouses.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-9462-3
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction Ethical challenges of globalization
    (pp. 1-20)

    The world is facing crises in global politics and international relations that have only recently begun to be discussed in the philosophical literature. There is a crisis in peace highlighted by the so-called war on terror (Sterba 2003b). There is a refugee crisis with people moving around the globe in unprecedented numbers driven by war, persecution, famine and economic hardship (Carens 1987; Goodin 1992; Boswell 2005). There is a crisis of global justice with entire populations in underdeveloped parts of the world facing the threat of starvation owing to avoidable poverty.¹ There is a global environmental crisis, of which climate...

  4. Chapter 1 Cosmopolitanism and patriotism
    (pp. 21-54)

    The first three features of cosmopolitanism that I identified at the conclusion of the Introduction were:

    (1) measured endorsement of patriotism;

    (2) opposition to nationalism and chauvinism;

    (3) willingness to suspend narrow national interests in order to tackle global problems such as those of environmental degradation or global justice.

    According to Ulrich Beck (2002), nationalism is one of the chief enemies of cosmopolitan societies. In order to explicate why this is so, we need to distinguish patriotism from nationalism, and to understand how they relate to each other and to cosmopolitanism.

    Martha Nussbaum wrote an essay on patriotism, “Patriotism and...

  5. Chapter 2 Human rights
    (pp. 55-82)

    Of the many components of the idea of cosmopolitanism listed at the end of the Introduction, I want in this chapter to explore the philosophical foundations of the following:

    (4) respect for basic human rights as universally normative;

    (5) acknowledging the moral equality of all peoples and individuals;

    (6) respect for the peoples of the world as united by reason, sociability and a common humanity; and

    (7) belief in a globally acceptable concept of human dignity.

    The discourse of rights has very wide currency today and is an inescapable aspect of debates in international relations. As I mentioned in the...

  6. Chapter 3 Global justice
    (pp. 83-110)

    In this chapter we shall explore the following features of cosmopolitanism from the list I proposed in the Introduction:

    (8) benevolence to all others irrespective of race, caste, nationality, religion, ethnicity or location;

    (9) willingness to come to the aid of those suffering from natural or man-made disasters, including extreme poverty;

    (10) commitment to justice in the distribution of natural resources and wealth on a global scale;

    (11) global solidarity with struggles for human rights and social justice; and

    (12) commitment to the liberalization of immigration and refugee policies.

    I shall argue that a person with a cosmopolitan outlook would...

  7. Chapter 4 Lasting peace
    (pp. 111-140)

    In this chapter, I propose to discuss the following features of cosmopolitanism outlined at the end of the Introduction:

    (13) acknowledging the sovereignty of nation-states while insisting on limitations to that sovereignty in order to secure human rights and global justice;

    (14) quest for lasting world peace;

    (15) respect for the right to self-determination of peoples;

    (16) preparedness to prosecute crimes against humanity internationally.

    These features alter the focus of our considerations. Whereas the previous three chapters discussed the personal ethical stances that a cosmopolitan adopts towards others as individuals, this and the next chapter will discuss cosmopolitan ideals and...

  8. Chapter 5 Towards a global community
    (pp. 141-170)

    The final set of features of cosmopolitanism that we need to explore is:

    (17) acknowledging the rule of international law;

    (18) commitment to open and participatory political processes globally;

    (19) religious and cultural tolerance and an acceptance of global pluralism;

    (20) dialogue and communication across cultural and national boundaries;

    (21) seeing the world as a single polity and community.

    The suggestion that the whole world might be seen as a global community could express an ideal or describe a reality. It may be an ideal that cosmopolitans advocate as a hoped-for utopia or it may be an apt description of...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 171-180)
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 181-192)
  11. Index
    (pp. 193-202)