No cosmopolitan morality without state sovereignty
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionPhilosophy & Social Criticism. 2017, 43 (10), 1072-1094. 10.1177/0191453717713807
This article takes issue with the common view that cosmopolitan normative commitments are incompatible with recognition of state sovereignty as a basic principle of international law. Against influential cosmopolitans, who at best ascribe a derivative significance to the sovereignty of states, the article argues that state sovereignty is not only compatible with, but also essential to the recognition of individuals as units of ultimate concern. The argument challenges a problematic distributive conception of justice underlying many cosmopolitans’ support for reforms of the international legal order towards a system where respect for basic human rights is the only criterion for political legitimacy. An alternative relational conception of justice makes it possible to see why there is an internal connection between the rights of individuals and the rights of states. The argument adds up to a novel defence of the so-called domestic analogy, which regards the territorial integrity of states as an international parallel to the bodily integrity of individuals.