Published: ”Patriotism, Nationalism, and the Motivational Critique of Cosmopolitanism” Springer’s Handbook of Patriotism

An online version of my paper  ‘Patriotism, Nationalism, and the Motivational Critique of Cosmopolitanism’ which is due to appear in the Handbook of Patriotism in 2018, is available here [If you don’t have access to the published version, you can find a Pre proofs version here]. In essence it is a truncated version of the argument I made in my PhD thesis, parts of which are discussed in more detail (on normative feasibility; on the motivational preconditions of social justice; on cosmopolitanism and patriotism in humanitarian interventions).

9783319544830Abstract: This chapter offers a critical examination of the motivational critique of cosmopolitanism. While the objection that cosmopolitanism is motivationally deficient is common in defenses of patriotism and compatriot partiality, this chapter argues that it is often ambiguous, as it conflates three analytically distinct arguments. It then offers a framework with which to analyze each version of the motivational critique separately, distinguishing between the meta-normative, the ethical, and the political. Meta-normative arguments focus on the limits of human nature and motivational capacities; ethical arguments focus on the demandingness of moral requirements; and political arguments focus on the stability preconditions of social justice institutions. Demonstrating the flaws in the first two versions, it is argued that only the latter is plausible as a critique of cosmopolitanism: cosmopolitans have yet to explain what will maintain institutional stability, while the leading solutions to the problem of stability – liberalism, nationalism, and republicanism – all have anti-cosmopolitan implications. The chapter concludes by considering the implications of this analysis for cosmopolitans and their critics.


Book Review: Chaim Gans, A Political Theory for the Jewish People

[Forthcoming in Political Studies Review, see Early View here]

Chaim Gans’s long battle to rescue Zionism from itself reaches its culmination in this work. While his previous book, A Just Zionism: On the Morality of the Jewish State (Oxford University Press, 2008) was a self-standing defence of an egalitarian form of Zionism, here Gans turns his sights to the alternatives, seeking to situate his position between the Scylla of hegemonic interpretations of Zionism and the Charybdis of Post-Zionism. In the process, he provides a detailed and sophisticated account of the history of the Zionist movement and its internal variations, and analyses the different grounds for the view that, the Jews, as a national group, were justified in settling in Palestine and in establishing a Jewish state. Gans’s main target, the mainstream position he labels ‘Proprietary Zionism’, is based on an essentialist view of the Jewish nation throughout history, and its claims of ownership over the land of Israel. Gans concurs with the Post-Zionists in rejecting this historiography and the social ontology it assumes, but at the same time he denies the Post-Zionist conclusion: In a nutshell, his argument is that Jews have a right for self-determination (though not hegemony) in Israel, not due to claims of ownership, but due to the centrality of this territory in their cultural identity, and given the urgency of escaping persecution. In the final sections of the book, Gans considers the implications of his Egalitarian Zionism for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and for Israel’s relations with Jews beyond its borders.

This is a sophisticated and rich work in analytical political philosophy, which admirably does not limit itself to the ivory tower, but takes a clear position in some of the most heated debates in Israeli political discourse. Gans does not shy away from criticising the interpretations of national self-determination endorsed by Israel’s political and judicial elites, and his detailed critique of Post-Zionism’s philosophical fallacies is a welcomed addition to the existing, often unclear literature. This leaves open, however, the question of the book’s intended audience. While clearly Gans’s Egalitarian Zionism is an application of his earlier general theory of nationalism (previously defended in his 2003 The Limits of Nationalism), it is not obvious that the more innovative arguments employed in the current book are applicable beyond the particular context of Zionism; it is not a coincidence that the book was published first in Hebrew, with an Israeli audience in mind. As such, this is clearly an essential read for those with a stake in the battle for the future of the Zionist project, and more generally for those interested in novel thinking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A Political Theory for the Jewish People by Chaim Gans. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016. 305pp., £22.99 (h/b), ISBN 9780190237547


Published: ‘The Donor’s Dilemma: International Aid and Human Rights Violations’ (with Niheer Dasandi) in the British Journal of Political Science

This one has been a long time in the making.. Niheer and I started on the idea all the way back in July 2014 (!), so it is even more rewarding to see this paper out now, and especially given the great journal we managed to land it in.

What we tried to do in this paper is to develop a framework of thinking about dilemmas in politics, and specifically given cases of human rights violations in development aid recipients. My theoretical contribution here is to suggest a ‘political’ interpretation of the traditional literature in moral philosophy on the ontology and epistemology of dilemmas. In January 2016, Niheer and I organised a workshop on this theme at UCL’s Global Governance Institute (see here), where we were lucky enough to host the brilliant Jennifer Rubenstein (author of Between Samaritans and States: The Political Ethics of Humanitarian INGOs; see my review of this book here).

A word on working across subfields and across disciplines. I am a normative politicla theorist by training, with a tendency towards the philosophical. Niheer is a political economist specializing in international development. While this is not my first cross-disciplinary collaboration,  it is certainly the one I enjoyed most. Thinking back, I think this is due to the fact that the paper was truly a collaborative effort: while it certainly has more abstract and theoretical sections, and more applied and case-based sections, these are the product of shared work, with both of us (well, I at least!) learning a lot in the process.

The article is free to access here until October 14th, 2017.

Image result for british journal of political scienceAbstract: Donor governments face a dilemma when providing development aid to states that violate human rights. While aid may contribute to positive development outcomes, it may also contribute to rights violations committed by these regimes. This article provides a conceptual framework for donors to address this dilemma in a normatively justified way. Drawing on recent methodological advancements in normative political theory, it develops a distinctively political framework of dilemmas, suggesting three models: complicitydouble effect and dirty hands. It considers this framework in the context of development aid, discussing the relevant considerations for donors in different cases. The article demonstrates that an approach to development assistance that acknowledges political realities does not have to be normatively silent.

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