Human Rights, Legitimacy, and Global Justice: Deconstructing the Liberal Theory of International Relations

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Szende, Jennifer
Liberal , Human Rights , Cosmopolitanism , Statism
This dissertation examines liberal statist and liberal cosmopolitan attempts to explain global justice. It argues that liberal statists misidentify their own commitments regarding human rights, and that once these implications are drawn out, many statist and cosmopolitan theories of global justice converge on several of their central positions. Although statists and cosmopolitans differ in their methodologies, emphasis, epistemic commitments, and some logical commitments of their respective positions, I argue that they are nonetheless committed to many of the same positions about practices in the sphere of global justice. They share elements of a logical structure, based in liberal domestic principles, which commits them to similar practical implications. Their convergence is most visible in an examination of their human rights commitments. They nonetheless differ in their analytic priorities, and hence in the ease with which they arrive at many of their insights and conclusions. In particular, despite Rawls’s denial of the desirability or feasibility of cosmopolitanism, he shares many practical commitments with cosmopolitans such as Tesón, Beitz, Buchanan, Tan and Caney. Their shared liberal egalitarian premises arising from liberal domestic theory result in convergence on what they take to be the central questions of global justice, and moreover on their answers to these central questions. Liberal theories on both sides of the cosmopolitan and statist divide endorse a practical approach to human rights that links human rights compliance with such practical global justice privileges as non-intervention, humanitarian aid, treaty relations, and even tolerance. And this convergence entails a more united liberal account of global justice than theorists on either side of the statist and cosmopolitan divide have been willing to admit.
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