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28 Legal Stud. 430 (2008)
Moving from Cosmopolitan Legal Theory to Legal Practice: Models of Cosmopolitan Law

handle is hein.journals/legstd28 and id is 430 raw text is: Legal Studies, Vol. 28 No. 3, September 2008, pp. 430-451
DOI: 10.111 l/j.1748-121X.2008.00094.x
Moving from cosmopolitan legal
theory to legal practice: models of
cosmopolitan law
Dr Garrett Wallace Brown
Lecturer in Global Political Theory and Global Governance at the Department of Politics, University of
There has been considerable debate about how it would be possible to move from cosmo-
politan normative theory to cosmopolitan legal practice. These debates range from an
uncertainty about what specific moral and normative principles should underwrite cos-
mopolitan law, to how those requirements should be institutionalised at the global level.
In addition, many cosmopolitan theorists rest their more elaborate institutional models on
the assumption of an already existing and thoroughgoing practice of cosmopolitan law,
without detailed considerations regarding applied theory. The purpose of this paper is to
examine the concept of cosmopolitan law and to argue how legal cosmopolitanism pro-
vides a necessary linchpin and transitional conduit between cosmopolitan theory and more
institutionally based forms of cosmopolitanism. The paper examines the historical devel-
opment of legal cosmopolitanism, the uniqueness of contemporary cosmopolitan legal
theory within international legal debates, and maps the various approaches for moving
cosmopolitan legal theory to legal practice. Through mapping the discipline, it is argued
that Kantian legal cosmopolitanism represents the most coherent attempt to move from
cosmopolitan legal theory to global institutional practice. This is due to the fact that it
represents a minimal and moderate form of legal cosmopolitanism that accepts that any
move to a cosmopolitan order would need to evolve from our current legal order In this
regard, it is argued that Kantian legal cosmopolitanism can occupy a transitional position,
that not only satisfies the cosmopolitan concern for human worth, but that is also not guilty
of being grossly utopian in its quest toward global justice.
'True law is right reason in agreement with nature; it is of universal appli-
cation, unchanging and everlasting; it summons to duty by its commands, and
averts wrongdoing by its prohibitions... We cannot be freed from its obligations
by senate or people, and we need not look outside ourselves for an expounder or
interpreter of it.', Cicero
Although the words quoted were written over 2000 years ago, their influence on
contemporary cosmopolitanism and the idea of cosmopolitan law is enormous. From
this statement we can see the grounding for three important principles that have
underwritten contemporary legal cosmopolitanism and a renewed argument for the
establishment of cosmopolitan law. First, the quote relates the cosmopolitan notion
that morality and law are not mutually exclusive and that a relationship between
normative principles and practice can be discovered through human reason. Secondly,
this innate capacity for reason and reflective judgement defines us as moral beings and
0 2008 The Author. Journal Compilation ©D 2008 The Society of Legal Scholars.. Published by Blackwell Publishing,
9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK and 350 Main Street, Maiden, MA 02148, USA

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