Which role can physical proximity play in our thinking about the foundations of political community in a world where, due to political, economic and technological developments, we seem to live side by side with virtually everyone globally? This article interrogates this question in conversation with Kant’s political thought, where (enigmatically) proximity makes a prominent appearance both as a foundation of statehood and of cosmopolitan community. I argue that, as a scalar (rather than binary) criterion, the idea of proximity cannot serve as a particularisation principle that guides us in carving up the world into peoples or territories. However, as a regulative principle it provides an appealing normative criterion for the internal constitution of existing states. While this is predicated on accepting Kantian conservatism about boundaries, the proximity-based state is structured in a way that deflates the normative significance of the very distinction between insider and outsider.
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I am grateful to the audience at the Justitia Amplificata postdoctoral workshop in Bad Homburg, where an earlier version of this article was presented. Many thanks in particular to Anna Jurkevics and two reviewers of this journal for helpful questions and comments, as well as Lisa Disch for additional guidance.
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Huber, J. Putting proximity in its place. Contemp Polit Theory 19, 341–358 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41296-019-00357-5