Subjectivist cosmopolitanism and the morality of intervention

Journal of Social Philosophy 41 (2):137-151 (2010)
While cosmopolitans are right to think that state sovereignty is derived from individuals, many cosmopolitan accounts can be too demanding in their expectations for illiberal regimes because they do not account for the attitudes of the persons with who will subject to the intervention. These ‘objectivist’ accounts suggest that sovereignty is wholly a matter of a state’s conformity to the objective demands of justice. In contrast, for ‘subjectivist’ accounts, the attitudes of citizens do matter. Subjectivist cosmopolitans do not deny the objective demands of liberal justice, but argue that state sovereignty is at least partly a matter of the subjective attitude of citizens toward their state. This paper will highlight the reasons why such coercive impositions are troubling, and diagnose why objectivist theories characteristically fail to recognize them. It seeks to articulate a moderate kind of subjectivist cosmopolitanism that balances a liberal concern for rights with a worry about the imposition of political institutions or practices on a people that does not accept them.
Keywords Sovereignty  Intervention  Cosmopolitanism  A. John Simmons  Legitimacy
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