Chercher in Nomôdos

20 nov. 2015

ISUS, 14th Internat. Conf. ["Utilitarianism and Institutional Design"] Appel à com.: Panel: "Cosmopolitanism, Utilitarianism and Global Justice", Lille, 6-8 July 2016 (deadline: 1st March 2016)

Information transmise par B. Bourcier:
International Society for Utilitarian Studies (ISUS)
14th International Conference
[Utilitarianism and Institutional Design]

Call for Papers  / Appel à communication

Cosmopolitanism, Utilitarianism and Global Justice

Lille (France)
6-8 July 2016
(deadline: 1st March 2016)
Résumé en Français infra

Cosmopolitanism, Utilitarianism and Global Justice

Utilitarianism is recognized as one of the major tradition of moral and political thinking in Western philosophy. One way to approach what is utilitarianism can be presented with Krister Bykvist’s words: “Utilitarianism states that we ought to make the world as good as we can by making the lives of people as good as we can.” (Bykvist, 2010) This general assumption shows a clear relation with political morality and ethics in general. If utilitarianism is concerned with “mak[ing] the world as good as we can by making the lives of people as good as we can”, what can be said about global justice and cosmopolitanism from a utilitarian perspective? 

This general interrogation takes its roots from the simple observation that the broad literature on cosmopolitanism, global justice and utilitarianism is mostly developed with a mutual ignorance as if the plural cosmopolitan family knew that a utilitarian is per se non-cosmopolitan and conversely, as if the utilitarian family knew that a cosmopolitan cannot be a utilitarian. Indeed, everything happens as if there was a natural mutual exclusion between cosmopolitanism and utilitarianism. Everything happens as if the central tenets of cosmopolitanism (e.g. individualism, egalitarianism, universalism) are directly and necessarily incompatible with the central tenets of utilitarianism (e.g. consequentialism, egalitarianism, maximization, welfarism). 

However, the “incompatibility thesis” (that is implicitly or explicitly running through the literature on cosmopolitanism and utilitarianism) is challenged today by some works in the history of utilitarianism and in the contemporary debates on global issues such as global justice and global democracy.

Indeed, while contemporary cosmopolitan theorist such as S. Caney recognizes Jeremy Bentham as one cosmopolitan theorist (Caney, 2005, p. 4), most of the Benthamite and utilitarian scholars ignore the relation between utilitarianism and cosmopolitanism. In this area, the works of Peter Niesen and Gunhild Hoogensen on the history of utilitarianism(1) are opening the Pandora Box and advocate the cosmopolitan character of Bentham’s philosophy. In the contemporary debates, an important step has been realized on global justice with the works of R. Marchetti and C. Jones. They both have recently defended “consequentialist cosmopolitanism” and clearly argue against the “incompatibility thesis”. 

Indeed, in his book Global Justice, Defending Cosmopolitanism (OUP, 1999), Charles Jones argues that the most plausible and relevant theory of global justice takes its root in the utilitarian tradition. More precisely, he argues that the “basic interest utilitarianism” is the best candidate responding to global justice issues. Raffaele Marchetti endorses consequentialist cosmopolitanism in order to respond to the issue of global democracy. In his book, Global Democracy: For and Against, Ethical Theory, institutional design, and social struggles (Routledge, 2008), he defends an “all-inclusive version of consequentialist cosmopolitanism” (p. 35) which grounds a model for global democracy.

The aim of this workshop is to query the utilitarian tradition, the cosmopolitan tradition and the global literature on this general idea: what can be said about global justice and cosmopolitanism from a utilitarian perspective? Can we properly use the label “cosmopolitanism” to qualify a utilitarian doctrine? Does utilitarianism redefine the cosmopolitan ideal or does it radically contradict its real essence? (etc.) This workshop aims to clarify, explicit and develop a critical thinking on the theme of cosmopolitanism, global justice and utilitarianism in the domain of history of philosophy and contemporary philosophy.

Many topics are developed for this workshop. Here is a non-exhaustive list of items that presents some of the problems and concepts desired for this workshop:
  • Institutional Design and Cosmopolitanism
  • Humanitarian Intervention and Utilitarianism
  • Global Justice and Responsibility
  • Legal theory and Cosmopolitanism
  • International law and Cosmopolitanism
  • Classical Utilitarianism and Cosmopolitanism
  • Nationalism and Utilitarianism
  • World Citizenship and Utilitarianism
  • War and Peace in Utilitarianism
  • Empire, World Government and Utilitarianism
  • International Relation Theory and Utilitarianism
  • Global Democracy and Utilitarianism
  • Transnational Justice and Utilitarianism
  • Utilitarian Climate Ethics and Global Issues
  • Utilitarian Intergenerational Ethics and Global Issues
Papers will be pre-circulated in advance. Each paper will be attribute 45 minutes. The format will be 25-30 minutes presentation for each paper followed by 15 minutes of questions and discussion.

Papers proposal of maximum 1500 words should be sent by March 1st 2016.

Papers may be sent in English or in French, however, note that the working language of the conference will be English.

The organizer of the Workshop cannot provide any financial support for speakers.

Deadline for sending full papers June 10th 2016.

This Workshop is part of the 14th Conference of the International Society for Utilitarian Studies (ISUS) which will be held for the first time in France on 6th to 8th July 2016 at Lille Catholic University. All participants have to register on ISUS website ( and then select the panel “Cosmopolitanism, Utilitarianism and Global Justice”.


(1) Peter Niesen, Bentham’s Cosmopolitanism, Theory and Practice, ISUS 2012 Conference, New York (Unpublished paper). Rethinking Ethical Foreign Policy, Pitfalls, possibilities and paradoxes, edited by David Chandler and Volker Heins, Part. II, Chap. 5 ,“'The West divided’?: Bentham and Kant on law and ethics in foreign policy” de Peter Niesen, Routledge, 2007. Gunhild Hoogensen, International Relations, Security and Jeremy Bentham, Routledge, 2005. Georgios Varouxakis, «Cosmopolitan Patriotism in J. S. Mill’s Political Thought and Activism», Revue d’études benthamiennes [En ligne], 4 | 2008, mis en ligne le 01 février 2008, consulté le 19 février 2014. URL: Jeremy Bentham et le cosmopolitisme juridique, Benjamin Bourcier, in Le cosmopolitisme juridique, dir. Olivier de Frouville, p.99-111, Pedone, Paris, 2015.

Résumé en Français

Cosmopolitisme, Utilitarisme et Justice Globale

Les débats portant sur la démocratie cosmopolitique, la justice globale, l’éthique de la guerre, etc. ont connu ces trente dernières années un certain retentissement en philosophie politique contemporaine. Alors qu’il est remarquable de constater que les contributions et participations des différentes traditions de pensée ont très largement nourri la réflexion sur le cosmopolitisme et la justice globale, on ne peut qu’être surpris de la relative absence de la tradition utilitariste. En effet, «l’utilitarisme» semble n’avoir contribué qu’assez marginalement aux questions portant sur la «justice globale» et le «cosmopolitisme» (Singer, 1972 ; Jones, 1999 ; Marchetti, 2008).

Plus étonnant, la littérature très imposante portant sur le «cosmopolitisme» et la «justice globale», et, la littérature dévouée à l’histoire de l’utilitarisme comme à l’utilitarisme contemporain, semblent toutes deux avoir prises des chemins éloignés suivant une exclusion mutuelle, une ignorance réciproque voire parfois une défiance marquée. Suivant ce constat, tout se passe comme si, d’un côté, la famille du cosmopolitisme savait qu’un utilitariste est, per se un «non-cosmopolite» ou encore un «anti-cosmopolitisme», tandis que de l’autre côté, la famille utilitariste savait qu’un cosmopolite ne peut pas être un utilitariste.Cette ignorance réciproque est, depuis quelques années, remise en question à la fois par quelques travaux d’histoire de l’utilitarisme mais aussi par certains travaux contemporains qualifiés de «cosmopolite» ou renvoyant à la «Justice Globale». Ce colloque voudrait donc interroger les rapports entre, d’un côté, «l’utilitarisme» et, de l’autre côté, le cosmopolitisme et la justice globale.