For Love of Country

Martha Craven Nussbaum, Author, Joshua Cohen, Editor
Martha Craven Nussbaum, Author, Joshua Cohen, Editor Beacon Press (MA) $16 (154p) ISBN 978-0-8070-4313-4
Reviewed on: 07/29/1996
Release date: 08/01/1996
Paperback - 176 pages - 978-0-8070-4329-5
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Brown University philosophy professor Nussbaum's lead essay, ""Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism,"" which originally appeared in the Boston Review, ignites an energetic response from 15 other essayists. Tracing ideas to the Stoics, Nussbaum argues for cosmopolitanism over patriotism, asserting that the world citizen regards all human beings as fellow citizens and neighbors and that it is better to be a citizen of the world than merely a citizen of a state. While a few respondents agree with Nussbaum, most take steamy umbrage at her premise. Hilary Putnam says Nussbaum may be a prophet but world citizenship isn't for today. Robert Pinsky says she ""spectacularly fails"" and then eulogizes the sight of an American flag flapping over his neighborhood market. Elaine Scarry cautions against replacing nationalism with internationalism at the risk of bypassing constitutionalism. Richard Falk warns against replacing national patriotism with cosmopolitanism without ""addressing the market-driven globalism."" Others challenge Nussbaum on the basis that there is no larger world government to become citizens of, belittling her suggestion that people can have many allegiances and criticizing her for putting forth an abstract, rather than a specific, sense of humanity. In her reply to the respondents, Nussbaum maintains that we share a fundamental humanity by virtue of the fact that, although each person is born by chance into a particular country, ""we are all subject to disease and misery of all kinds;...we are all condemned to death."" Unlike the fourth century B.C. of the Stoics, practical opportunities for moral world citizenship without a world state are many. To say, as Nussbaum writes, ""I cannot act as a world citizen, since there is no world state"" is a cowardly way of avoiding thinking about how high a price one will pay to help others in need. Readers will wonder whether some of the respondents have a clue about what Nussbaum proposes in this exciting compendium. (Aug.)
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