Public Reason: Vol. 1, No. 1, February 2009
Nationalist Criticisms of Cosmopolitan Justice
András Miklós

This paper critically evaluates some central arguments offered by nationalists against stringent international requirements of justice. The first part considers and rejects Michael Walzer’s argument against international justice relying on a view about the social meanings of goods. The refutation points out, first, that Walzer’s thesis is not true as an empirical matter, and, second, it is not an attractive normative position since it is biased towards certain conceptions of the good. The second part of the paper considers non-relativistic arguments for national partiality. It distinguishes between instrumental and intrinsic arguments and argues that neither form is capable of justifying the nationalist thesis. Instrumental arguments would have to rely on implausible empirical premises to justify national partiality. Intrinsic arguments either would have to invoke a view of the impersonal value of national self-determination that is unacceptable to liberals, or need to come up with a justification showing how the intrinsic goods produced by political communities are capable of overriding claims of outsiders.

Key words: global justice, nationalism, relativism, national self-determination.


Miklós, András. 2009. Nationalist Criticisms of Cosmopolitan Justice. Public Reason 1 (1): 105-124.