Ethical Perspectives 12 (4):465-479 (2005)

Paul Cobben
University of Amsterdam
This article argues against the opinion that only the world-state can do justice to the universality of the moral person. The exclusion by the legal order of a nation state does not necessarily contradict the universality of the moral person, but can rather be the presupposition of its validity: namely if this legal order derives its legitimacy from being the historical institutionalisation of universal freedom. It is discussed how nation states, which legitimate themselves accordingly, must support, on penalty of inconsistency, the formation of a federation of states.This, however, does not necessary imply the formation of a world community without exclusion. The possibilities to eliminate illegitimate states or to prevent the statelessness of human beings are limited.On the one hand the right of intervention in illegitimate states, presupposes the existence of an internal opposition, which can take over power after intervention; on the other hand, the admittance of stateless people as new citizens by the nations states, may not endanger the stability of the polity. In the last resort, the assistance of helpless individuals is a moral duty
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DOI 10.2143/EP.12.4.2004793
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