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Cosmopolitanism and International Relations Theory

Cosmopolitanism and International Relations Theory

Richard Beardsworth

ISBN: 978-0-745-63730-3

Apr 2013, Polity

224 pages



Globalization has been contested in recent times. Among the critical perspectives is cosmopolitanism. Yet, with the exception of normative theory, international relations as a field has ignored cosmopolitan thinking. This book redresses this gap and develops a dialogue between cosmopolitanism and international relations. The dialogue is structured around three debates between non-universalist theories of international relations and contemporary cosmopolitan thought.

The theories chosen are realism, (post-)Marxism and postmodernism. All three criticize liberalism in the international domain, and, therefore, cosmopolitanism as an offshoot of liberalism. In the light of each school's respective critique of universalism, the book suggests both the importance and difficulty of the cosmopolitan perspective in the contemporary world. Beardsworth emphasizes the need for global leadership at nation-state level, re-embedding of the world economy, a cosmopolitan politics of the lesser violence, and cosmopolitan political judgement. He also suggests research agendas to situate further contemporary cosmopolitanism in international relations theory.

This book will appeal to all students of political theory and international relations, especially those who are seeking more articulation of the main issues between cosmopolitanism and its critics in international relations.

Acknowledgements viii

Introduction 1

1 The Spectrum of Cosmopolitanism 16

1 The Historical Background to the Cosmopolitan Disposition 17

2 The Cosmopolitan Spectrum 21

2.1 Cultural cosmopolitanism 21

2.2 Moral cosmopolitanism 23

2.3 Normative cosmopolitanism 29

2.4 Institutional cosmopolitanism 34

2.5 Legal cosmopolitanism 36

2.6 Political cosmopolitanism 40

3 Conclusion 46

2 The Realist Critique of Cosmopolitanism 48

1 The Major Tenets of Realism 49

2 Critique of Cosmopolitanism 56

2.1 The Realist approach to international law 56

2.2 Cosmopolitan ‘domination’ 63

2.3 Humanitarian intervention and political moralism 66

2.4 Towards a prudent politics of limits 70

3 Conclusion 73

3 A Cosmopolitan Response to Realism 75

1 The Status of the Normative in Conditions of Interdependence 76

2 Power, Interest and Legitimacy: A Cosmopolitan Perspective 81

3 Category Errors: Domestic Analogy, ‘Legalistic-Moralistic’ Fallacy and Anarchy 90

4 Humanitarian Intervention: Towards a Cosmopolitan Realism 97

5 From the Principle of Sovereignty to the Principle of Subsidiarity 104

6 Conclusion 108

4 The Marxist Critique of Cosmopolitanism 111

1 The Major Tenets of Marxism 114

2 From Embedded Liberalism to Neo-liberalism 122

3 The Marxist Critique of Cosmopolitanism 128

3.1 Cosmopolitan lack of economic analysis and complicity with global liberal governance 130

3.2 Deep reasons for global inequality: beyond cosmopolitan surface 134

3.3 The cosmopolitan substitution of ethics for politics 137

3.4 Nation-state particularity contra cosmopolitan universality: the Marxist response to globalization 138

4 Conclusion 139

5 A Cosmopolitan Response to Marxism 141

1 Cosmopolitan Reformism 144

1.1 Cosmopolitanism and the capitalist system 144

1.2 Cosmopolitan refl ection on the market and regulation 146

2 'Global Social Democracy': What Can This Concept Mean? Re-embedded Liberalism 153

3 The Cosmopolitan Logic of Re-embedded Liberalism 159

4 Global Energy Futures: Economic Dilemma and State Leadership 162

5 Conclusion 169

6 The Postmodern Critique of Cosmopolitanism 172

1 Postmodernism, Modernity and IR 173

2 Foucault and Agamben: The Biopolitical Fate of Liberal Governmentality 176

3 The Illiberal Practices of Global Liberal Governance 182

3.1 The politics of security 182

3.2 The liberal way of war 183

3.3 Depoliticization of the victim 187

4 Jacques Derrida: Law, Democracy-to-come and Ethico-political Responsibility 189

5 Conclusion 197

7 A Cosmopolitan Response to Postmodernism 199

1 The Logic of Liberal Law I: What Is Liberal Law? 200

2 The Logic of Liberal Law II: Cosmopolitan Response to Postmodern Refl ection on Law 204

3 A Politics of the Lesser Violence: Cosmopolitan Response to Illiberal Liberalism 210

4 Political Judgement and Risk: A Cosmopolitan Response to Derrida and his IR Legacy 218

5 Conclusion 224

Conclusion: Idealism and Realism Today 227

Notes 238

References 244

Index 264

"A must-read for anyone interested in understanding how both cosmopolitanism and postmodern IR can offer insightful political advice to Realism without either falling back on a programmatic ethics or becoming complicit in oppression for the sake of unconditional singularity."

"An essential reader for students of international relations theory and those seeking a foundational text to cosmopolitanism with clear depictions of the linkage and responses to its critics."
Central European Journal of International and Security Studies

"The author's tolerantly critical and systematic approach allows him to meet each critical debate with an especiallywell-tailored and zealously argued cosmopolian response, which is bound to appeal to scholars of law and politics."
Political Studies Review

"Beardsworth interrogates contemporary cosmopolitanism with the traditions of international relations theory most critical of it. The sophisticated cosmopolitan liberalism he unfolds in response is resourceful, often surprising, and wise."
Leif Wenar, King's College London

"Cosmopolitanism is now a central framework for thinking about questions of international relations and global politics. In this superb book, Richard Beardsworth draws together themes from cosmopolitan thinking and rival traditions of international thought to produce a fascinating synthesis that shows a way forward for cosmopolitan insights that neither ignores nor denies the difficulties and problems international relations displays. An important and original argument which all those interested in international political theory should read."
Nicholas Rengger, St Andrews University

"Cosmopolitanism and International Relations Theory is an incisive contribution to international political theory. Philosophically wide-ranging, analytically rigorous and politically engaged, this important book both challenges and enriches contemporary debates, while providing new directions for theory and recommendations for practice. As an impressive tour d'horizon, and a significant philosophic contribution, this is a book that cosmopolitans, their critics and international political theorists of all kinds will find essential reading and ground for engagement."
Michael C. Williams, École supérieure d'affaires publiques et internationales

  • Richard Beardsworth is a leading figure in Political Philosophy.
  • He focuses his study on three main IR schools: mainstream Realism, Marxism and critical International Political Economy, and the emerging body of IR postmodern thought.
  • He also maintains the importance of the cosmopolitan outlook for the future of IR theory and suggests research agendas that may redress present weaknesses.
  • This has a wide focus and has adoption potential for courses in liberalism, globalization, global ethics and its discontents, and cosmopolitanism.