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Title: Cosmopolitan Ethics from Below
Author(s): LEUNG, Gilbert
Journal: Ethical Perspectives
Volume: 20    Issue: 1   Date: 2013   
Pages: 43-60
DOI: 10.2143/EP.20.1.2965124

Abstract :
Cosmopolitanism or cosmic/universal citizenship is a powerful ethical and political discourse that has been deployed in a variety of ways since its inception in the Ancient Greek world. The present article briefly surveys a selection of contemporary mainstream accounts, which are also liberal, top-down accounts, as represented by David Held, Jürgen Habermas, and Martha Nussbaum. It then proceeds to outline a number of critiques, of which it is suggested the most important are the concept’s supposed relation to imperialism and the tendency in liberal discourses to erase political antagonism. I then proceed to show how a range of bottom-up and radical approaches, as represented by Fuyuki Kurasawa, Boaventura de Sousa Santos, Jacques Derrida, Hardt and Negri, and Costas Douzinas, can serve to imagine cosmopolitanism differently. My aim is restricted to showing that it is possible, contrary to common understanding, to conceive cosmopolitanism outside standard liberal discourses and in terms of a radically democratic, anti-hegemonic, and antagonistic mode of political resistance. I conclude, somewhat paradoxically, that it is only when cosmopolitanism acts against cosmopolitanism that the concept’s place in the history of ideas is not foreclosed.

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