The limits of design for cosmopolitan democracy

J.W. Kuyper

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Most scholars and practitioners agree that world politics suffers from a democratic deficit. In response, proposals for cosmopolitan democracy are not in short supply. Indeed the meaning of the term cosmopolitan democracy is now incredibly broad, encompassing a wide variety of institutional and normative prescriptions intended to foster more democratically legitimate standards at the transnational level. However, there is a distinct irony to these proposals. The increased interdependence and cooperation of actors at the transnational level - spurred on by globalization - make cosmopolitan democracy a necessary vision. Simultaneously, globalization amplifies power imbalances and thus skews the interests of different agents. Hence, globalization makes cosmopolitan democracy a necessary but distant prospect. This article seeks to address the empirical institutional constraints against building cosmopolitan democracy using historical institutionalism to stress the limitations of design. A normative argument is also built focusing on the relative merits of democratic experimentalism as a way to advance the cosmopolitan project whilst undercutting the complications noted in the analytical section of the article. © 2012 by Public Reason.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-47
Number of pages20
JournalPublic Reason
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Bibliographical note

Cited By :1

Export Date: 19 September 2018

Correspondence Address: Kuyper, J. W.; Australian National UniversitAustralia; email:

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  • Cosmopolitanism
  • Democratic experimentalism
  • Global democracy
  • Global governance
  • Historical institutionalism


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