Cosmopolitan ethics and global legalism

Journal of Global Ethics 1 (2):113 – 126 (2005)
This article analyses the legal and ethical dimensions of the wide gap between commitments to universal human rights and the reality of their widespread and systematic abuse, particularly as related to poverty and inequality. The argument put forward is that, properly conceived, global legalism, that is, the quest to apply the rule of law across and among states and societies, and cosmopolitan ethics, both support restricting harms imposed on weak and vulnerable individuals worldwide by an unjust institutional order. Therefore, those who have tended to value either a global rule of law or cosmopolitan ethics independently have good reason to pursue their requirements together. The article also considers the problem of legalism and cosmopolitanism being used by powerful agents in global politics to enhance their prerogatives and their freedoms from legal and ethical restraints.
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