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The philosophical idea that human beings have equal moral and political obligations to each other based solely on their humanity, without reference to state citizenship, national identity, religious affiliation, ethnicity, or place of birth. The term originates from the Greek philosopher Diogenes of Sinope who responded to questions about his citizenship and political allegiance by claiming that he was a Kosmopolite (‘citizen of the world’). Cosmopolitans argue that all human beings share a capacity for reason and are therefore, by nature, members of a universal community. From this, cosmopolitanism makes the normative claim that political boundaries and national identities are morally arbitrary and that all human beings should be held as the primary units of moral worth, as if they were equal citizens of a universal political community. Contemporary cosmopolitan arguments tend to make both moral and institutional claims, suggesting not only that human beings have equal and universal moral worth, but also that political institutions at the global level should reflect, to various degrees, these cosmopolitan moral values. Consequently, many recent cosmopolitan debates have focused on promoting a condition of global justice and providing a challenge to the traditional Westphalian notion of state sovereignty. Ancient cosmopolitan thinkers include such philosophers as Zeno of Citium, Chrysippus, Marcus Cicero, Marcus Aurelius, and Seneca. Modern cosmopolitan thinkers include Immanuel Kant, Charles Beitz, Brian Barry, Thomas Pogge, Jürgen Habermas, Simon Caney, and David Held.


Subjects: Social Sciences.

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