Cosmopolitanism, motivation, and normative feasibility

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


David Axelsen has recently introduced a novel critique of the motivational argument against cosmopolitanism: even if it were the case that lack of motivation could serve as a normative constraint, people’s anti-cosmopolitan motivations cannot be seen as constraints on cosmopolitan duties as they are generated and reinforced by the state. This article argues that Axelsen’s argument misrepresents the nationalist motivational argument against cosmopolitanism: the nationalist motivational argument is best interpreted as an argument about normative feasibility rather than as an argument about the technical feasibility. Nationalists’ objection to cosmopolitanism arises not from the impossibility of cosmopolitan motivation but from the moral costs of achieving and sustaining it. Given this interpretation, this article argues that Axelsen fails to demonstrate that nationalists would have to accept cosmopolitan conclusions from their own premises.

Original languageEnglish
Article number26347
Pages (from-to)43-55
Number of pages13
JournalEthics and Global Politics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 L. Erez.


  • cosmopolitanism
  • feasibility
  • global justice
  • moral costs
  • motivation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


Dive into the research topics of 'Cosmopolitanism, motivation, and normative feasibility'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this