Cosmopolitan Political Communities in International Relations

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Modern political communities and committed to two competing moral principles. The first holds that fellow-citizens or co-nationals have special rights and deserve special consideration. The second maintains that each member of the human race deserves equal respect. As a consequence, political communities have to reconcile their duties to promote the interests of citizens with their obligations to the remainder of the human race. This article asks how political communities should understand their responsibilities to outsiders. Particular emphasis is placed on the duty not to harm outsiders and not to benefit from the harm that befalls other peoples. It is argued that an ethical foreign policy based on the `no harm' principle is one way in which communities can reconcile their duties to fellow citizens and their obligations to distant strangers. This is one way in which peoples can retain their separate identities while shouldering the responsibility of building a worldwide moral community.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-150
JournalInternational Relations
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 01 Apr 2002


  • cosmopolitan
  • citizenship
  • harm


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