Embedded Cosmopolitanism: Duties to Strangers and Enemies in a World of 'Dislocated Communities'

OUP/British Academy (2008)
In this innovative book, Toni Erskine offers a challenging and original normative approach to some of the most pressing practical concerns in world politics - including the contested nature of the prohibitions against torture and the targeting of civilians in the 'war on terror'. Erskine's vision of 'embedded cosmopolitanism' responds to the charge that conventional cosmopolitan arguments neglect the profound importance of community and culture, particularity and passion. Bringing together insights from communitarian and feminist political thought, she defends the idea that community membership is morally constitutive - while arguing that the communities that define us are not necessarily territorially bounded and that a moral perspective situated in them need not be parochial. Erskine employs this framework to explore some of the difficult moral dilemmas thrown up by contemporary warfare. Can universal principles of restraint demanded by conventional laws of war be robustly defended from a position that also acknowledges the moral force of particular ties and loyalties? By highlighting the links that exist even between warring communities, she offers new reasons for giving a positive response - reasons that reconcile claims to local attachments and global obligations. Embedded Cosmopolitanism provides a powerful account of where we stand in relation to 'strangers' and 'enemies' in a diverse and divided world; and provides a new theoretical framework for addressing the relationship between our moral starting point and the scope of our duties to others.
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