Another Cosmopolitanism

Another Cosmopolitanism

Another Cosmopolitanism

Another Cosmopolitanism

Excerpt

The conflagration of World War II made manifest the inescapable interdependence of the globe. For the past half century, we have grown ever more tightly interconnected by the expanding international circulation of persons, capital, commerce, pollution, information, labor, goods, viruses, and so on, ad infinitum. In the arresting images from space of our frail, robin's egg planet, we have been privileged to witness the unity that previous millennia could envision only by inhabiting the mind of God.The present question, the question taken up by Seyla Benhabib in this slim but significant volume, is how we can fashion political and legal institutions to govern ourselves, all together, on this earth.

For centuries, we have articulated issues of morality and ethics within a language of universalism. We have asked what we owe our fellow human beings, not what we owe our fellow-citizens. Exemplary is the [universalist moral standpoint] adopted by [the discourse theory of ethics] (18), of which Seyla Benhabib is such an eminent representative. The ordinary organization of our legal and political life, however, stands in sharp contrast to this ethical standpoint, for it does not contain an analogous universalist tradition. To the contrary, as Benhabib writes, we have long believed that [[p]olitical actors need bounded communities—whether they be cities, regions, states, or transnational institutions—within which they can establish mechanisms of representation, accountability, participation, and deliberation] (Reply 169). Ever since the Enlightenment we have conceptualized law as legitimate only insofar as it expresses a political will that has been forged within the walled fora of these bounded communities.

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