Advancing justice and democracy 'beyond' the state: Feasibility through flexibility

Jonathan W. Kuyper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The literature on international political theory is replete with proposals to make world politics a more just and democratic place. This article explores how the cosmopolitan design project can be made more tractable in a world composed of sovereign nation states. Specifically, it argues that flexibility mechanisms – tools common in international cooperation – enhance the feasibility of design. The article draws upon the recent work on political feasibility and argues that economic, institutional and cultural constraints can be overcome by using flexibility mechanisms. In order to gain traction on the argument, prescriptions made in the field of intellectual property rights are analysed. Thomas Pogge and Allen Buchanan, Tony Cole and Robert Keohane have separately advanced institutional proposals to reform the global essential medicine system. The article details how feasibility can be enhanced through flexibility in light of these proposals, and makes a suggestion about their comparative feasibility and desirability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417-435
Number of pages19
JournalPolitical Studies
Issue number2
Early online date12 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jun 2016

Bibliographical note

Export Date: 19 September 2018

Correspondence Address: Kuyper, J.W.; Department of Political Science, Stockholm University, Universeitwagen 10 F, Plan 5, Sweden; email:

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  • Cosmopolitanism
  • Global governance
  • Global justice
  • Intellectual property rights
  • Political feasibility


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