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Hegel and global politics: communitarianism or cosmopolitanism?

Burns, Tony



This article discusses Hegel’s views on global politics by relating them to the ‘communitarianism versus cosmopolitanism’ debate. I distinguish between three different theoretical positions and three different readings of Hegel, which I associate with the notions of ‘communitarianism,’ ‘strong cosmopolitanism’ and ‘weak cosmopolitanism’ respectively. Contrary to a commonly held view that Hegel is not a cosmopolitan thinker at all, in any sense of the term, I argue that he is best thought of as a weak cosmopolitan thinker rather than a communitarian or a strong cosmopolitan advocate of the idea of a world-state. In passing, the article refers to the relationship which exists between Hegel’s ideas and those of three Twentieth Century theorists who might be associated with these theoretical positions and these different readings of Hegel, namely, Carl Schmitt, Alexandre Kojève and Jurgen Habermas. The article also refers to the methodological problems which are confronted by readers of Hegel’s writings who wish to apply his ideas to the problems of global politics today. Here I refer to a distinction which I have made elsewhere between different kinds of reading, namely the interpretation, appropriation and the reconstruction of texts, which is especially relevant for readers of the works of Hegel.


Burns, T. (2014). Hegel and global politics: communitarianism or cosmopolitanism?. Journal of International Political Theory, 10(3), doi:10.1177/1755088214539409

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 2, 2014
Online Publication Date Jun 26, 2014
Publication Date Sep 4, 2014
Deposit Date Jul 19, 2016
Publicly Available Date Jul 19, 2016
Journal Journal of International Political Theory
Print ISSN 1755-0882
Electronic ISSN 1755-1722
Publisher SAGE Publications (UK and US)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 10
Issue 3
Keywords Hegel, International Relations, Cosmopolitanism, Carl Schmitt, Alexandre Kojève, Jurgen Habermas
Public URL
Publisher URL
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address:


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Copyright Statement
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