Published: ‘Cosmopolitanism, Motivation and Normative Feasibility’ in Ethics & Global Politics

My critical debate article on David Axelsen’s ‘The State Made Me Do It: How Anti-Cosmopolitanism is Created by the State‘ (Journal of Political Philosophy, 21(4), 2013) is now out in the recent issue of Ethics & Global Politics.

Abstract:  David Axelsen has recently introduced a novel critique of the motivational argument against cosmopolitanism: even if it were the case that lack of motivation could serve as a normative constraint, people’s anti-cosmopolitan motivations cannot be seen as constraints on cosmopolitan duties as they are generated and reinforced by the state. This article argues that Axelsen’s argument misrepresents the nationalist motivational argument against cosmopolitanism: the nationalist motivational argument is best interpreted as an argument about normative feasibility rather than as an argument about the technical feasibility. Nationalists’ objection to cosmopolitanism arises not from the impossibility of cosmopolitan motivation but from the moral costs of achieving and sustaining it. Given this interpretation, this article argues that Axelsen fails to demonstrate that nationalists would have to accept cosmopolitan conclusions from their own premises.


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