Analysing Cosmopolitanism’s Conception of Connecteness
My aim in this paper is twoford: I show how cosmopolitans needs a concept of connectedness in order to ground their theories, and I examine the concept of connectedness as posited by Charles Beitz and Thomas Pogge. Following Thomas Pogge, I take cosmopolitan theories to share at least three tenets. First, cosmopolitan theories posit that the unit of moral concern is the individual. Second, cosmopolitan theories contend that this moral concern attaches to every individual universally. Third, cosmopolitan theories stipulate that each individual is the concern of all others in generality. The three tenets of cosmopolitanism, on their own, do not imply a relation of obligation between individuals. Individualism, universality and generality apply to a set of persons who are connected or related in some relevant way. For example, it would make no sense to stipulate a relation of obligation between those living in extreme poverty on Mars and those living on Earth, in the absence of any connection (communication, cooperation, joint institutions, etc) between those on Mars and those on Earth. Those on Mars can talk of individualism, universality and generality all they want, but some concept of connectedness is a necessary condition for these tenets of cosmopolitanism to result in a relation of obligation between those on Earth and those on Mars. I argue, in this paper, that the concept of connectedness posited by Beitz and Pogge is substantive, and as such cannot be seen as truly universal. I show, by the thought experiment of the isolated island of Ragus, that such theory is arbitrary, and so may exclude some from the purview of justice who ought to be included. I draw parallels between my argument and that of Simon Caney, who argues that interconnectedness is arbitrary from a moral point of view. I conclude the paper by giving a brief Kantian explanation of why a substantive concept of connectedness should not be used to ground a cosmopolitan theory.