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Radical Cosmopolitics

Radical Cosmopolitics: The Ethics and Politics of Democratic Universalism

James D. Ingram
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  • Book Info
    Radical Cosmopolitics
    Book Description:

    While supporting the cosmopolitan pursuit of a world that respects all rights and interests, James D. Ingram believes political theorists have, in their approach to this project, compromised its egalitarian and emancipatory principles. Focusing on recent debates without losing sight of cosmopolitanism's ancient and Enlightenment roots, Ingram confronts the philosophical difficulties of defending universal ideals and the implications for ethics and political theory.

    In morality as in politics, theorists have generally focused first on discovering universal values and second on their implementation. Ingram argues that only by prioritizing the development and articulation of universal values through political action in the fight for freedom and equality can theorists do justice to these efforts and cosmopolitanism's universal vocation. Only by proceeding from the local to the global, from the bottom up rather than from the top down, on the basis of political practice rather than moral ideals, can we salvage moral and political universalism. In this book, Ingram provides the clearest, most systematic account yet of this schematic reversal and its radical possibilities.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-53641-7
    Subjects: Political Science, Philosophy

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-20)

    Throughout its long history the idea of cosmopolitanism has never known such success as in the last two decades. We can postulate four reasons for this. The first was a widespread sense, captured in the word globalization, that the accelerating movements of people, money, goods, technologies, images, and ideas beyond national frontiers had crossed a threshold. Nearly all observers perceived a qualitative change in the way and the extent to which people related to, affected, and depended on one another across borders: the world seemed to be becoming “more global”—interconnected, interdependent, and, in this sense, unified. The second, closely...


    • CHAPTER ONE Universalism in History
      (pp. 23-62)

      Cosmopolitanism is an attempt to realize the imperative of universalism—to grasp the human world as one and ourselves as, to at least some extent, connected to, and therefore at least to some degree responsible for, all of it.¹ Cosmopolitics, as I will use the term, is the attempt to act politically in the world on the basis of this understanding. Our present interest in cosmopolitanism derives from the renaissance it enjoyed in the 1990s, when, in a way only partially anticipated in the high Enlightenment or after the Second World War, it struck many observers as imperative to “re-imagine...

    • CHAPTER TWO Cosmopolitanism in Ethics: Tensions of the Universal
      (pp. 63-102)

      At its classical origins, we saw in the last chapter, cosmopolitanism was first of all matter of consciousness and conviction. Even today, it belongs first and foremost to the field of ethics, especially if we take the latter in its etymological sense. As among the eighteenth-century philosophes, the most common use of the term cosmopolitan today is to describe how people live (or aspire to live)—their ethos, culture, worldview, or way of life. The rise of cosmopolitanism in this sense was seized on in the 1990s as one of the most striking facts about the contemporary world, and the...

    • CHAPTER THREE Cosmopolitanism in Politics: Realizing the Universal
      (pp. 103-144)

      Cosmopolitanism, I have claimed, is, first of all, a moral-ethical matter—the idea that every person, wherever they live and whatever citizen ship they hold (or do not hold), commands our respect and moral concern. This imperative can be formulated in various ways, some of which I explored in the last chapter: that we should recognize the humanity of others as deserving of fully human lives, as having equal moral standing, or as if they had equal say in the rules and institutions that govern our interaction. All these formulations have the effect of expanding the scope of our moral...


    • CHAPTER FOUR Rethinking Ethical Cosmopolitanism: From Universalism to Universalization
      (pp. 147-183)

      To this point my discussion has been mainly negative, focusing on various ways in which the cosmopolitan commitment to egalitarian universalism goes astray. My survey of the history of Western cosmopolitanisms in chapter 1 showed how they have always reflected the conditions of their emergence, mirroring or reproducing the social, cultural, ideological, and political contexts from and against which they arose. In chapter 2 I depicted moral-ethical cosmopolitanisms as afflicted by a double bind. On the one hand, like Rawls’s theory of justice, they tend to lose their critical force by abstracting from existing social-political conditions and cultural values; yet,...

    • CHAPTER FIVE Rethinking Political Cosmopolitanism: From Democracy to Democratization
      (pp. 184-225)

      In chapter 3 I endorsed in principle Kant’s vision of a peaceful worldwide federation of republics and even more so contemporary cosmopolitan democrats’ vision of a planetary system of overlapping authorities structured so as to best combine the need for democratic accountability with sufficient scope to meet the challenges of globalization while ensuring a modicum of justice at a global level. The problem with these ideas, I suggested, lies much less in the details of any particular design than in the extreme difficulty of achieving them; for the exercise of power required to bring them into being would almost surely...

    • CHAPTER SIX Cosmopolitics in Practice: The Politics of Human Rights
      (pp. 226-262)

      As I observed in the introduction, more than any other development over the last two decades the rise of human rights as a universal language of political justification has been taken to herald the imminence, if not the arrival, of a world of cosmopolitan politics. Whether we date the advent of human rights to the revolutionary declarations of the Age of Reason, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, or the Helsinki Accords and their embrace by the Western democracies and a burgeoning third sector in the 1970s, it was only when the collapse of “really existing socialism” left...

  7. Conclusion
    (pp. 263-272)

    In this book I have argued that the dominant approach to cosmopolitanism in contemporary political philosophy is undermined by what could be described as a lack of realism. That approach proceeds as though, by developing the best moral arguments and normative visions, it will be able to persuade people—presumably those in a position to change things—to bring about a better world. This practical presupposition is seldom defended explicitly; rather, it is taken to be self-evident—simply what one does when one does political philosophy. Occasionally, it is true, cosmopolitan theorists ask whether the ends or schemes they develop...

  8. NOTES
    (pp. 273-304)
    (pp. 305-322)
  10. INDEX
    (pp. 323-340)