Published: ‘Pro Mundo Mori? The Problem of Cosmopolitan Motivation in War’ in Ethics & International Affairs

My doctoral project on the motivational critique of cosmopolitanism dealt primarily with questions of social justice. However, in 2016, preparing a paper for conference on cosmopolitanism and patriotism in democratic armies, I was prompted to think about analogies  between the problem of motivation in cosmopolitan justice and the problem of motivation in cosmopolitan wars – specifically, armed humanitarian interventions. The result is now published in Ethics & International Affairs.

This is my first foray into the ethics of war, and I enjoyed writing it quite a bit. There are many questions still left open here, and I hope to be able to address them one day!

Image result for ethics and international affairsAbstract: This article presents a new understanding of the problem of cosmopolitan motivation in war, comparing it to the motivational critique of social justice cosmopolitanism. The problem of cosmopolitanism’s “motivational gap” is best interpreted as a political one, not a meta-ethical or ethical one. That is, the salient issue is not whether an individual soldier is able to be motivated by cosmopolitan concerns, nor is it whether being motivated by cosmopolitanism would be too demanding. Rather, given considerations of legitimacy in the use of political power, a democratic army has to be able to motivate its soldiers to take on the necessary risks without relying on coercion alone. Patriotic identification offers a way to achieve this in wars of national defense, but less so in armed humanitarian interventions (AHIs). Two potential implications are that either AHIs should be privatized or that national armies should be transformed to become more cosmopolitan.


Interview with Prof. Mark Philp (University of Warwick) on Realism and the History of Political Thought

On 9 May 2017, Steven Klein and I interviewed Prof. Mark Philp  on his academic journey, realism in political theory, and the history of political thought, in anticipation of the Max Weber Lecture he gave the following day titled ‘The corruption of politics’ (which you can watch here).

Upcoming Talks and Events (Rome, Florence, Oxford)

Rome, 15th-18th March, 2017: I will be presenting, along with Cécile Laborde, our co-authored paper ‘Cosmopolitan Patriotism as a Civic Ideal’ at a workshop on cosmopolitanism and national identity, organised by Robert Audi of the Australian Catholic University. Other speakers include, among others, Onora O’Neill (Cambridge), Rainer Forst (Frankfurt), Philip Pettit (Princeton/ANU) and John Tasioulas (KCL)

Florence, 2nd May, 2017: I will be discussing with Chaim Gans (Tel Aviv University) his recent book, A Political Theory for the Jewish People (Oxford University Press, 2016). See the event details here.

Oxford, 20th-21st June, 2017: I will be taking part in a workshop at Nuffield College, Oxford on ‘Liberal Nationalism and Its Critics: Normative and Empirical Questions’, organised by Gina Gustavsson and David Miller.

Published: ‘Anti-Cosmopolitanism and the Motivational Preconditions for Social Justice’ in Social Theory and Practice

My article on the political motivation argument against cosmopolitanism is now available in Social Theory and Practice (online first), and will be included in the April 2017 issue. This has been a long time in the making (starting out as a thesis chapter about three and a half years ago), and benefited from the support and comments of many, many friends and colleagues, so I am very happy it is now out in the world.

A pre-proofs version is available here -but please, only cite the official version when you explain why I am wrong in your next book/article!

AbstracImage result for social theory and practicet: This article reconstructs the political motivation argument against cosmopolitanism, according to which the extension of social justice beyond bounded communities would be motivationally unstable, and thus unjustified. It does so through an analysis of the stability problem, and a reconstruction of the three most prominent anti-cosmopolitan arguments – Rawlsian statism, liberal nationalism, and civic republicanism – as solutions to this problem. It then examines, and rejects, three prominent objections, each denying a different level of the argument. The article concludes that the civic republican version of the argument is the most plausible, and implications for cosmopolitanism are considered

Workshop on Political Dilemmas of International Aid, 18 January, UCL’s Global Governance Institute

I’m very excited about this  upcoming workshop, organised by Niheer Dasandi and myself, on political dilemmas of international development aid. Niheer and I are going to present our recent work on the donor’s dilemma, but even more importantly, we will be discussing this with Alan Whaites of the OECD’s Accountability and Effective Institutions Team, and with Jennifer Rubenstein (University of Virginia), author of the wonderful book Between States and Samaritans: The Political Ethics of Humanitarian NGOs (Oxford University Press, 2015).

International aid is under increasing scrutiny. While donors and development NGOs point to the positive impact aid has in developing countries, critics argue that aid does more harm than good by facilitating rights abuses.

Human rights organisations and British newspapers, in particular, have been critical of what they see as taxpayer-funded support for corrupt and repressive regimes. Given the messy politics and extreme situations that donors and development NGOs often face in developing countries, how should they respond to the dilemmas arising from international aid? What types of rules should guide their actions, and how could these rules be justified?

18 January, 5pm. Follow the link above for registration.

Book Review: Baron, Obligation in Exile: The Jewish Diaspora, Israel and Critique

Ilan Baron’s ambitious book centres on a controversial and highly topical research question: how can one best understand the relationship between the Jewish diaspora and the Israeli state, and the attitudes and responsibilities of the former towards the latter? Continue reading

The Donor’s Dilemma: Thinking Politically About Difficult Choices

A paper by political economist extraordinaire Niheer Dasandi and myself on the messy morality of international aid was published as a working paper by the Developmental Leadership Program (DLP), an international research initiative that explores how leadership, power and political processes drive or block successful development. To summarise the summary of the paper:

Many donors and development organisations work in complex political realities and we need to move past a naïve belief that donors should never provide aid to non-democratic governments. Equally, it is important that we avoid the other extreme where we ignore signs of increasing repression and rights violations.

We argue that at the heart of thinking and working politically lies the ability to respond to changing circumstances and to be aware of warning signs. Further, the framework illustrates that a political approach to aid, which is sensitive to political contexts and structural constraints, need not be normatively silent.

Full paper here.