Contra Leviathan: Hegel’s Contribution to Cosmopolitan Critique

  • Robert FineEmail author
Part of the Studies in Global Justice book series (JUST, volume 10)


For Hegel the chasm between cosmopolitan principles and the actuality of the emerging world order gave a sense of unreality to Kant’s political writings. The rights of man were subverted into a duty of obedience to the nation that granted rights. The extension of the rights of man to other European nations was fine in theory but in practice “wars of liberation” were bitterly resisted by invaded peoples. States learned to defend themselves militarily in the knowledge that legal arguments could not win wars and wars could be useful. The “right of hospitality” played its traditional role of serving as a pretext for European states to subdue “uncivilized” peoples who declined to provide the required hospitality to European “visitors”. Hegel acknowledged the visionary character of Kant’s cosmopolitan thought but Kant’s observation that every right is a right of coercion was a reminder to Hegel that every expansion of rights is also a re-invention of new forms of coercion. How Hegel pursued this insight, and what relevance it has for understanding our own global order, is the topic of this paper.


Civil Society Modern State Political Writing Bourgeois Society Negative Dialectic 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of WarwickCoventryUK

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