Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy


Political Science


Charles Jones


This thesis considers the relationship between global obligations and particular duties. I argue that there is a core tension in our moral thought that both cosmopolitans and particularists must confront. This tension is between our ability to fulfill obligations to particular others with whom we stand in a meaningful relationship (e.g. family, friends, co-nationals) and our global obligations. It is argued in the literature that strong moral cosmopolitanism is neither tenable nor desirable, as it requires us to forgo these special duties. This is seen as problematic as it does not resonate with our lived moral experience – we desire meaningful relationships that, by their nature, generate special duties. The task for a successful theory of cosmopolitanism, then, is to account for special duties in some manner. Cosmopolitan theory, I contend, needs to be reformed so as to make it consistent with special duties in such a way that does not reduce their structure or content. In the alternative, however, we may have obligations to associates that are, by their nature, inconsistent with our global obligations. In this thesis, I explore three attempts at reconciling these sets of obligations; I consider each of these to be attempts at ‘rooting’ cosmopolitanism. My goal, then, is to determine whether we can interpret cosmopolitanism in such a way that adequately responds to the claims of both particularists and universalists. I conclude the thesis with an alternative argument for rooted cosmopolitanism. I argue that if the moral ends of cosmopolitanism are to be met without undermining our particular moral duties, we may need to adjust the institutional structures that generate obligations to provide a more efficient way to fulfill both sets of duties without thereby reducing their content.