Critical Foundations of Contemporary Cosmopolitanism

Event: Conference

Location: NEC conference hall

1 – 2 November 2013

Daniele ARCHIBUGI, James BOHMAN, Luis CABRERA, Samuel A. CHAMBERS, Oliver MARCHART, Thomas BERNS, Benjamin BOURCIER, Alessio CALABRESE, Tamara CĂRĂUȘ, Solange CHAVEL, Stephan CONNELLY, Bogdan IANCU, Kostas KOUKOUZELIS, Jonathan KUYPER, Dan LAZEA, Gilbert LEUNG, Sergiu MISCOIU, Viacheslav MOROZOV, Raluca PARVU, Elena PARIS, Camil PARVU, Stefan PEDERSEN, Aron TELEGDI-CSETRI, Konstantinos VASSILIOU, Fabia VEÇOSO


The core idea of cosmopolitanism is that all human beings belong to a single community and the ultimate units of moral concern are individual human beings, not states or particular forms of human associations. Universal overarching principles are inevitable in constructing a cosmopolitan theory and every new proposal of a cosmopolitan approach risks formulating a new legitimating “grand narrative” in the alleged post-metaphysical and post-universalistic theoretical framework. Given this main tension of cosmopolitan theories, the challenge would be to think cosmopolitanism in non-totalizing and post-universalist terms. Nevertheless, is cosmopolitanism possible without universalism? Should we resist all universalizing thinking? How can one justify cosmopolitan values without relying on some conceptions of a common human nature? Should we look for foundations of the cosmopolitan rights, norms and values? Alternatively, should we aim towards a cosmopolitanism without foundations or towards a cosmopolitanism with ‘contingent foundations’?

In the recent normative political theories with an incontestable cosmopolitan potential, – Rawls, Habermas and their followers – the metaphysical objectivity of the alleged universal values has been replaced by the intersubjective validity attainable through “reasoning from the point of view of others”, consensus and agreement. Nevertheless, with their accents on “anticipated agreement”, “overlapping consensus” “reasons that all can accept”, the discursive justifications of the universality of cosmopolitanism risk either to postulate a global consensus or to re-affirm the importance of the nation-state. On the other hand, some of the authors who accept a permanent place of conflict and disagreement in thinking the political (Ch. Mouffe, E. Laclau, J. Ranciere, C. Lefort, A. Badiou, etc.) also tie the practice of disagreement to the level of nation-state, claiming that it is inoperative at the global level. In this context, the challenge is to elaborate a post-foundational concept of cosmopolitanism, without relying on the assumptions of global consensus, but at the same time without giving up the dynamics of disagreement and contestation at the global level. Nevertheless, do disagreement and contestation have a cosmopolitan potential both as practice and as foundation? If cosmopolitanism as disagreement and contestation is a reaction against democratic deficit, inequalities and injustices produced by the existing institutional schemas that are mainly nation-state based, then are disagreement and critique the only cosmopolitan possibilities? Is cosmopolitanism identical with contestation, indeterminacy and negativity?

We cannot aim to ground cosmopolitanism on principles that are undeniable and located outside society and politics, but, then, should the cosmopolitan thinking emerge out of a particular empirical, historical conjuncture, like globalization or a certain hegemony? Can we move towards cosmopolitanism through a plurality of acts of grounding (would this still be a cosmopolitanism?) or only through a hegemony? Is there an autoimmune logic of cosmopolitanism to start as a philosophical and moral universalism and to fall into imperialism in every attempt to institutionalize it? Can and should cosmopolitanism be institutionalized according to an ultimate foundation or according to ‘contingent foundations’?

Alternatively, is cosmopolitanism the very attempt to come to terms with the failure of ultimate grounds? If we cannot give up the universalizing impetus that disturbs and contests given particular meanings, filiations, identities, sovereignties, nevertheless, we have to avoid our universalizing impetus to become a supplement to empire or hegemony. In this case, is cosmopolitanism identical with a permanent vigilance or, on the contrary, cosmopolitanism is never present, having only the structure of the promise? Should cosmopolitanism be conceived always as a cosmopolitanism ‘to come’ (Derrida) – a cosmopolitanism of an impossible future that will never be present, but which intervenes in our present, like a promise, changing the actual state of affairs?


1 November

9.15-9.30 Welcome: Tamara Cărăuș, Camil Pârvu, Dan Lazea, Aron Telegdi-Csetri
M. Benoit Rutten, Délégué Wallonie-Bruxelles à Bucarest

9.30 – 10.30 Plenary session I: Oliver Marchart, The Political, the Ethical, and the Cosmopolitical:
A Post-foundational Perspective
Chair: Tamara Cărăuș

10.30 -10.45 Coffee Break

10.45 -11.45 Plenary session II: James Bohman, Democratic Cosmopolitanism
Chair: Dan Lazea

11.45 – 12.00 Coffee Break

12.00 – 13.30 Panel I: Democracy as the Necessary Ground of Cosmopolitanism
12.00 – 12.30 Kostas Koukouzelis, Contestatory Cosmopolitanism
12.30 – 13.00 Jonathan Kuyper, Cosmopolitanism and Democracy: On the Universality
of Deliberation
13.00 – 13.30 Camil Pârvu, The Boundary Problem in Democratic Theory: Cosmopolitan Implications
Chair: Liliana Popescu

13.30 – 14.30 Lunch, NEC

14.30 – 15.30 Plenary session III: Luis Cabrera, Justice for Space Aliens: Toward Cosmos-politanism
Chair: Sergiu Miscoiu

15.30 – 15.45 Coffee Break

15.45 – 17.15 Panel II: Cosmos or the ‘Natural’ Foundation of Cosmopolitanism
15.45 – 16.15 Aron Telegdi-Csetri, Cosmos and Critique
16.15 – 16.45 Konstantinos Vassiliou, Cosmopolitanism and Cosmopolis: A Double Foundation
of Contemporary Cosmopolitanism
16.45 – 17.15 Stefan Pedersen, Kantian and Wellsian Cosmopolitanism: A Useful Distinction?
Chair: Elena Paris

17.15 –17.30 Coffee Break

17.30 – 19.00 Panel III: The Cosmo-Political: Cosmopolitanism without Foundations?
17.30 – 18.00 Gilbert Leung, Political Cosmogenesis
18.00 – 18.30 Thomas Berns, The roman model versus the universalist cosmopolitanism’s respect
of sovereignty
18.30 – 19.00 Raluca Pârvu, Cosmopolitanism, Multiculturalism and Antagonism
Chair: Stephen Connelly

2 November

9.00 – 10.30 Panel V: Cosmopolitanism: Plurality of Grounds?
9.00 – 9.30 Solange Chavel, Post-Foundational Cosmopolitanism: The View from the Border
9.30 – 10.00 Benjamin Bourcier, ‘The Subject of Law’ as the Foundation of Cosmopolitanism
10.00 – 10.30 Dan Lazea, Cosmopolitan Polity: Global Governance without Government
Chair: Gilbert Leung

10.30 – 10.45 Coffee Break

10.45 – 11.45 Plenary session IV: Daniele Archibugi, Crime and Punishment in a Cosmopolitan Society. The Emerging of a Global Criminal Justice
Chair: Camil Pârvu

11.45 – 12.00 Coffee break

12.00 – 13.30 Panel IV: Rights & Justice as Inevitable Grounds of Cosmopolitanism
12.00 – 12.30 Fabia Veçoso, When Human Rights Ruin Cosmopolitan Sensibilities: Assessing the Inter-American view on Amnesties
12.30 – 13.00 Bogdan Iancu, The Possibilities of Cosmopolitan Constitutionalism-The Case in Point
13.00 – 13.30 Elena Paris, Two Visions of Community: Cosmopolitan Human Rights versus Collective Security
Chair: Simina-Elena Tănăsescu

13.30 – 15.00 Lunch NEC

15.10 – 17.00 Panel VI: From Perpetual Peace to Perpetual Contestation?
15.00 – 15.30 Stephan Connelly, Cosmopolitanism: for the love of multitudes
15.30 – 16.00 Viacheslav Morozov, Is Cosmopolitan Community Possible? Liberalism,
Global Solidarity and the Political
16.00 – 16.30 Sergiu Miscoiu, Cosmopolitanism and Challenge of Consensual Politics
16.30 – 17.00 Tamara Cărăuș, Dissent as (Possible) Foundation of Cosmopolitanism
Chair: Cristian Preda

17.15 – 17.30 Coffee Break

17. 30 – 18.30 Plenary Session V:
Samuel A. Chambers, Cosmopolitan Pedagogies: From Stultification to Emancipation
Chair: Aron Telegdi-Csetri

18.30- 18.45 Concluding Remarks


This conference is part of the project CRITICAL FOUNDATIONS OF CONTEMPORARY COSMOPOLITANISM supported by a grant from the Romanian National Authority for Scientific Research, CNCS – UEFISCDI (code: PN-II-RU-TE-2011-3-0218, contract nr. 98/05.10.2011).