Public Reason: Vol. 4, No. 1-2, June-December 2012
Individual Membership in a Global Order: Terms of Respect and Standards of Justification
David Alvarez


The present paper examines alternative conceptions of what it means for individuals to be considered legitimate members in a global order. First, I will adopt a convergence view that takes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a de facto cosmopolitan reference for a wide plurality of conceptions. Within this framework, I will contrast two main cosmopolitan conceptions, each of them pivoting around a referential article in the Declaration. On the one hand, conceptions based on alternative interpretations of article 28 emphasize the role of global institutions in setting and implementing the conditions for just membership but differ on whether the baseline for the justification of the global order should rest on subjunctive or contingent standards (Pogge/Risse). On the other hand, conceptions of human rights based on article 15 emphasize the right to be a member in a self-determining political community. Here different accounts of basic conditions for local membership differ between terms of “due participatory respect” and those of “equal participatory respect” (Cohen/Benhabib-Forst). In this paper I hold that: (1) a contingent account of human rights (Risse) is compatible with a conception of membership as “due participatory respect” (Cohen) but incoherent with the justificatory premises of a conception of the common ownership of the Earth; and (2) that a practice of “democratic iterations” starting from existing conditions (Benhabib) requires a subjunctive justification of the global institutional order (Pogge) if the right to equal participatory membership is to be reconciled with an account of legitimate membership in the global order. Finally, (3) I defend that both conceptions are compatible with the support of a political status of global residency that offers an alternative to national membership and to global statehood.

Key words: cosmopolitanism, membership, human rights, global justice, citizenship, self-determination.



Alvarez, David. 2012. Individual Membership in a Global Order: Terms of Respect and Standards of Justification. Public Reason 4 (1-2): 92-118.