Cosmopolitanism and Educating the Citizen of the World

  • Henk ten Have
Part of the Advancing Global Bioethics book series (AGBIO, volume 10)


The emerging discipline of global bioethics is inspired by the ideals of cosmopolitanism: the unity of humanity, solidarity, equality, openness to differences, and focus on what human beings have in common. These ideals consider each human being as a citizen of his or her own community or state (polis) as well as at the same time as citizen of the world (cosmos). In the first, they are born; they share a common origin, language and customs with co-citizens. In the second, they participate because they belong to humanity; all human beings share the same dignity and equality. Being citizen of the world liberates the individual from captivity in categories such as culture, tradition, and community, but also gender and race. Humanism replaces communitarianism. Cosmopolitanism expresses the aspiration to live beyond specific, bounded horizons. It allows a broader solidarity without boundaries. The moral ideal is that human beings belong to a universal community (‘humanity’); human well-being is not defined by a particular location, community, culture or religion. Global citizens therefore have responsibilities towards other human beings, near or distant. Cosmopolitanism often uses the metaphor of expanding circles of moral concern taking into account more beings and entities as subjects of moral consideration. This chapter will explore the implications of these ideals for bioethics education. Is it possible to develop global ethics education, contributing to the formation of global citizens concerned with global health and justice, assuming global responsibility to criticize structures of violence and inequity? This question is especially important since it is increasingly recognized that globalization is associated with rising injustices and inequalities.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Healthcare EthicsDuquesne University in PittsburghPittsburghUSA

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