Introduction: the motivational problem for cosmopolitan political institutions

Recent philosophical debates on the topics of global justice and political legitimacy have furnished us with a rich set of moral arguments in favour of an array of cosmopolitan political institutions.1 Proposed institutions range from those with the relatively modest aim of protecting some basic set of human rights more effectively than existing international institutions now achieve (Beitz 2009; Goodhart 2005; Gould 2004), through to those with the more ambitious aim of democratising some or all of the political decision-making undertaken beyond the boundaries of states (Held 1995; Archibugi 2008; Macdonald 2008). Despite the philosophical appeal of many of the justifications advanced for these institutions, all still face the challenge of demonstrating how the right kind of support for them could be motivated, as a means of establishing and sustaining the institutions in actual political practice.2 This motivational problem extends beyond the undeniable difficulties of securing and sustaining political agreement on the moral justifiability of particular cosmopolitan political institutions. Even to the extent that political agreement can be reached in support of these institutions at the level of principle, there remains the additional challenge of motivating political action in compliance with the moral demand to support such institutions, given the fact that actors’ moral beliefs are not always well aligned with their own political interests and broader behavioural dispositions.