Compatriot partiality and cosmopolitan justice: Can we justify compatriot partiality within the cosmopolitan framework?
Keywords:global justice, cosmopolitanism, compatriot partiality, nationalism, democracy
This paper shows an alternative way in which compatriot partiality could be justified within the framework of global distributive justice. Philosophers who argue that compatriot partiality is similar to racial partiality capture something correct about compatriot partiality. However, the analogy should not lead us to comprehensively reject compatriot partiality. We can justify compatriot partiality on the same grounds that liberation movements and affirmative action have been justified. Hence, given cosmopolitan demands of justice, special consideration for the economic well-being of your nation as a whole is justified if and only if the country it identifies is an oppressed developing nation in an unjust global order.
This justification is incomplete. We also need to say why Person A, qua national of Country A, is justified in helping her compatriots in Country A over similarly or slightly more oppressed non-compatriots in Country B. I argue that Person A’s partiality towards her compatriots admits further vindication because it is part of an oppressed group’s project of self-emancipation, which is preferable to paternalistic emancipation.
Finally, I identify three benefits in my justification for compatriot partiality. First, I do not offer a blanket justification for all forms of compatriot partiality. Partiality between members of oppressed groups is only a temporary effective measure designed to level an unlevel playing field. Second, because history attests that sovereign republics could arise as a collective response to colonial oppression, justifying compatriot partiality on the grounds that I have identified is conducive to the development of sovereignty and even democracy in poor countries, thereby avoiding problems of infringement that many humanitarian poverty alleviation efforts encounter. Finally, my justification for compatriot partiality complies with the implicit cosmopolitan commitment to the realizability of global justice theories.
Article first published online: 9 NOV 2015