Cosmopolitanism and Global Justice

Academic Year: 
Course Description: 

This course explores some of the central issues of political morality as they apply at the international level. Traditionally, political theory has discussed the problems of the relationship between the state and its citizens. In recent decades, its scope has been expanded to cover the morality of the relation between states, and especially the relation between persons globally. These questions include, among others, the problems of global poverty and inequality, the legitimacy of international institutions, the basis of human rights, the morality of war and humanitarian intervention, and the morality of international migration. The first part of this course will be dedicated to the discussion of global distributive justice, or the ground and extent of the duties of individuals and political institutions to attend to the facts of global economic inequality. We will examine different versions of the thesis that our duties of justice are restricted to our fellow-citizens. Then we turn to various arguments aiming to show that the obligations of distributive justice apply globally. In the next part of the course, we take up the issue of international legitimacy: some authors argue that under the circumstances of global economic integration, the scope of collective political decision-making ought to include everyone who is affected by these decisions, and therefore the system of democratic nation-states is no longer satisfactory from a normative point of view. Others argue that the various conditions that are required for democratic decision-making to be legitimate are absent at the international level, and therefore transnational democracy is not desirable. Finally, we examine more specific issues in international political morality. We discuss the theory of human rights, traditional just war theory and its revisionist critique, and various approaches to the problem of immigration.

Learning Outcomes: 

Familiarizing with the main theoretical approaches to the problem of global distributive justice and international legitimacy, human rights, immigration and just war theory; enabling students to characterize and evaluate familiar international political and economic facts and developments in the terms of these theoretical accounts.
Improving analytical skills through understanding, presenting and discussing complex theories, enhancing the ability to construct and evaluate normative arguments.


Teaching format: Lecture with class discussion and student presentations
Assessment: final paper (40%), midterm exam (30%), presentation (15%), participation (15%)