Pro Mundo Mori? The Problem of Cosmopolitan Motivation in War

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This article presents a new understanding of the problem of cosmopolitan motivation in war, comparing it to the motivational critique of social justice cosmopolitanism. The problem of cosmopolitanism's motivational gap is best interpreted as a political one, not a meta-ethical or ethical one. That is, the salient issue is not whether an individual soldier is able to be motivated by cosmopolitan concerns, nor is it whether being motivated by cosmopolitanism would be too demanding. Rather, given considerations of legitimacy in the use of political power, a democratic army has to be able to motivate its soldiers to take on the necessary risks without relying on coercion alone. Patriotic identification offers a way to achieve this in wars of national defense, but less so in armed humanitarian interventions (AHIs). Two potential implications are that either AHIs should be privatized or that national armies should be transformed to become more cosmopolitan.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-165
Number of pages23
JournalEthics and International Affairs
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2017 Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs.


  • Armed Humanitarian Intervention
  • Combat Motivation
  • Cosmopolitanism
  • Legitimacy
  • Patriotism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Political Science and International Relations


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