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Cosmopolitanism

  • By: Barney Warf
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Cosmopolitanism is an ethical, moral, and political philosophy that is simultaneously very old and relatively recent. The term has multiple meanings and is often used to connote someone who is sophisticated and urbane; for this reason, cosmopolitan culture is often associated with large, internationally oriented cities. There are many varieties of cosmopolitanism, including religious and secular, and conservative and liberal.

The most common form of cosmopolitanism seeks to uncouple ethics from distance, arguing that each person is bound up with, and obligated to, humanity as a whole. Cosmopolitans are moral universalists who insist on the inherent worthiness and dignity of all individuals, irrespective of their place of birth. Morally, therefore, national and cultural boundaries are irrelevant and meaningless or, worse, distractions from the important task of ...

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