Not ‘When’ World Government but ‘Why?’ The Centrality of Institutional Moral Purpose in Theorising Global Political Integration

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Event details

IR Seminar Series

Date & time

Monday 28 August 2017


SDSC Reading Room, Hedley Bull Centre (130), corner of Garran Road and Liversidge Street, ANU
ANU Canberra


Associate Professor Luis Cabrera, Griffith University


Bell School
+61 2 6125 8533

Questions around how to define or more broadly conceptualise an integrated global institutional order have become increasingly salient as academic interest in world government, the world state and related forms has been renewed across a range of disciplines. Some recent commentators have sought to distinguish global governance from world government by identifying definitive thresholds of political authority and coercive powers. At the same time, they have given relatively little attention to desirability, or normative justifications for pursuing global integration. This seminar argues for giving primary conceptual attention to the normative, specifically to the presumed moral purpose underlying proposed global institutional frameworks. Such purpose will shape prescriptions for the types of global institutional bodies that should be created, the powers they would control, and the kinds of global goods they would seek to produce. A preliminary conceptual rubric is presented, reinforcing how differing presumptions of institutional moral purpose and legitimacy have shaped world order prescriptions, from the UN Charter to a powerful security world state. Overall, the analysis highlights that important normative questions around the defensibility of different frameworks must be settled before (legitimate) global political integration can be fully conceptualised.

Luis Cabrera is Associate Professor of Political Science at Griffith University. He has published widely in areas of international organisation, global ethics, migration and global citizenship. His most recent monograph, The Practice of Global Citizenship (Cambridge University Press, 2010), was awarded the International Studies Association’s Yale H. Ferguson Prize for incorporation of plural methods. His monograph in progress, The Humble Cosmopolitan: Rights, Diversity and Trans-State Democracy (under contract, Oxford University Press), addresses questions around the appropriate accommodation of diversity and disagreement within political institutions beyond the state. He is co-convenor of the World Government Research Network and has published several articles related to the revival of rigorous research in IR and other fields on global political integration.

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