Accepted paper:

The capacities of 'anyone': accommodating the universal human subject within a cosmopolitan morality

Author:

Nigel Rapport (St. Andrews University)

Paper short abstract:

Vital to the cosmopolitan project of anthropology is the limning of universal moral procedures: the inscription within a global rule of law of the duties and dues of an individual human life. How to allow for the journey of Anyone across social milieus, among cultural traditions and beyond?

Paper long abstract:

Vital to the cosmopolitan project of anthropology is the limning of universal moral procedures: the inscription within a global rule of law of the duties and dues of an individual human life. How to allow for the journey of Anyone across social milieus, among cultural traditions and beyond? Cosmopolitanism asserts that rights and duties inhere to an individual human life: lived amid and among others' but intrinsically distinct from them. Moral argument has tended to concern what people should and should not do to others; less has been said about what they might choose for themselves. "Perfectionism", however, suggests that each human being should develop their nature: perfectionism gives a central place to self-regarding duties, telling each person to develop their own talents, their own rationality and capabilities—and help others do similarly. This paper approaches the dialectics of self-interest and mutuality by considering social arrangements that might safeguard a kind of moral space that locates individuals beyond any existing relationship and identity such that they might be free to fulfil their capacities for self-creation: to 'come into their own' beyond others' agendas. Distant from a Durkheimian perspective that would tie the moral to the conventional (so that the moral is synonymous with social reproduction), one conceives of the moral as a kind of space existing beyond social arrangements and allowing for exit from them: a personal preserve of which individuals are assured as (makers of) themselves.

panel W036
Vernacular cosmopolitanisms in an age of anxiety