Cosmopolitanism, Nationalism and Moral Opportunity Costs

Cosmopolitanism and nationalism are at war, if the criticism they relentlessly direct at each other is any guide. The current debates between defenders of these two views tend to solve their disagreements by showing that one view is incoherent and assigning victory to the other. I argue instead that cosmopolitanism and nationalism do not fail on their own, but are rather incomplete facets of the truth, because each reflects demands of morality that are in permanent tension with one another. Moreover, there may be no way in principle to establish a binding order of priority between nationalistic and cosmopolitan claims, even if in practice we will find various ways to negotiate between them.

Publisher: Northeastern Political Science Association
Published in: Polity
Volume 41, Number 4