Cosmopolitan Ethics by Adela Cortina

A bet for sanity in times of pandemic.

I said I was not going to read any more books or essays against the backdrop of the pandemic. After the disappointment of Zizek pandemic, I took it out on Innerarity Pandemocracy and I had already filled my dose of pandemic essays.

Then I came to the library and saw the volume Ethics cosmopolita and I by Adela Cortina read everything I find. Always interesting. In the blog I left the review of What is ethics really good for? and I have pending his best-known book Aporophobia, the rejection of the poor.

This book has to be in my personal library. It is one of those books that you would underline in its entirety and that you should keep rereading. You can buy it here.

And with this I leave as always the notes that have interested me.

Vulnerability and liability

On the ethics of care, responsibility, altruism, reciprocity, compassion, dignity.

Emmanuel Levinas's answer is clear. It is the face of the other, the image of their fragility, that drives me to be moral, not the autonomy or freedom of the individual. It is the being of the other in need of help that makes me a moral subject, obliged to give help, that makes me responsible. It is the presence of otherness that triggers moral obligation, beyond reciprocity. The responsibility does not come from myself, but from outside, it is not I who takes the initiative, but the strength of the face of the one who suffers.

One clear thing that I have learned after reading this book is that I have to read Ortega y Gasset now Aristotle.

Because human life is to do and the ethical task is to do oneself, to make oneself by preferring in concrete situations from some values ​​or others, as Ortega said. Hence, neutrality does not exist, but we always live valuing, opting for some goals or others.

Take care of democracy

Types of democracy and what we need for democracy to work. And among all this information this drop of wisdom that I want to highlight because of how present it is today in our society.

For democracies to work, politicians have to respect the difference between an enemy and an adversary. An adversary is someone you want to defeat. An enemy is someone you want to destroy. Unfortunately, increasingly the politics of enemies, the politics as warfareIt is replacing the politics of adversaries, and populisms of one sign or another are to blame for this.

Democracy is a very hackneyed topic in this blog with several readings

The fair city

Recover the city as a social, cultural and political meeting place

The right to the city is a collective right, it implies in some way the power to configure it by directing the urbanization process. And the city is one of the forms of human organization whose goal is to help protect the material and formal rights that make up citizenship: rights related to housing, public space, transportation, a healthy environment. But also the political and social rights that condition insertion in the city, such as political-legal equality, the identity of minorities, the citizen's salary or basic income, continuous training, care in times of special vulnerability, the right even healthy environment and development. All of this, one label or another, claims to build fair cities, but in recent times lines of research have been expressly opened with the title "the fair city"

We should discover a minimum of justice that everyone should share in order to build that just city. being politicians facilitators and managers of the common good.

He ends up listing pending challenges to achieve a fair city, but I think that this topic must be explored in a different article.

Gerontophobia and pandemic

Surely one of the most sensitive issues of the entire pandemic. When there were not enough resources to take care of everyone and many people wanted the elderly to be left out because they had less life or because they had already lived longer. I would not like to be the one who has to choose who lives and who dies. But I am clear that you have to have a series of criteria and the author explains it very well.

In the case of the report from the Ministry of Health, it is explicitly prescribed not to discriminate on the basis of age or disability, but to consider it on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the clinical situation and the objective expectations of each patient. Older patients should be treated under the same conditions as the rest of the population, attending to each particular case, and the same happens with people with disabilities or dementia. The equal worth of all people demands it. The heuristic of dignity saves lives and, in this case, prevents against a gerontophobia that can be more or less conscious and explicit. This is a fruitful learning for the present and for the future.

Humanities, fertility and utility

It is a recurring theme in the humanities, to talk about the humanities being profitable too. It is true that in our time they are the great forgotten in favor of the sciences and that this union between disciplines has been lost.

… Aristotle's seminal words resound, recalling that the first philosophy is the supreme science precisely because it is not productive: «It is evident that we do not seek it for any other use, but just as we call the free man who is for himself. and not for another, so we consider this as the only free science, since this alone is for itself ».

En of the book Non profit Martha C. Nussbaum deals with the same topic.

Therefore, it would be convenient to clarify positions such as that of Martha C. NJssbaum, who in her Non-profit text, as in all those of this genre, criticizes the greed of a global world, driven by the desire for profit, in which it is necessary defend the humanities because they do not pursue profit, and, for that very reason, they are an essential oasis for the development of humanity and democracies.


Hence, it is appropriate to turn to proposals such as that of Rens Bod in his monumental book A New History of the Humanities, in which he argues that the humanities have also contributed to economic progress and solved concrete problems. In Bod's view, what happens is that many histories of science have been written highlighting its achievements for the welfare of mankind, but no histories of the humanities as a whole have been written. If we knew the history of the humanities, we would realize that their visions have changed the course of the world,

I highly recommend Nuccio Ordine in his great book The usefulness of the useless.

Take care of the words. Journalism and social media

The importance of journalism, the word, the truth and the effect of social networks in our lives as citizens

It seems, then, that social media, which was born with the promise of strengthening democracy, given how it works, are helping to undermine it to a great extent. They make news available to people that they would not otherwise have access to, but they are offered selected and distorted in such a way that access to reality seems almost forbidden.

In times when emotivism dominates the public space from hoaxes, post-truth, schematic populisms, demagogic proposals, appeals to corrosive emotions, it is urgent to remember that the demands of justice are moral when they involve reasons that can be made explicit and on the that it is possible to deliberate openly. And, above all, that the criterion to discern when a demand is fair is not the intensity of the shouting in the street or in the networks, but consists in verifying that it satisfies universalizable interests, not only those of a group, not even only those of a group. of a majority. that's the best argument, the heart of justice.


This section explains something that we have all wondered at some time when we say. How is it possible that they continue to vote for X? Whoever I know, the party and the ideology that is. With what he has lied, how can it be that people do not take him into account and vote for him again.

Indeed, the cognitive sciences bring to light that human beings think in terms of evaluative frames and metaphors; the frames are present at synapses in the brain, physically present in the form of neural circuits; we interpret the facts from those frames, so when the facts don't fit the frames, we keep the frames and ignore the facts. This explains that knowing scandals in relation to the politicians of the group itself, having news that they are incoherent, corrupt, or that they actually offer proposals but rather masquerades, does not change the positions of a good number of citizens. Once the frame is built, if the facts do not match the frame - they seem to say - worse for the facts.

This is why education and critical thinking are important.

Democracy reason and feelings

The things that really matter, from the point of view of a constitutional democracy or of a civic nationalism would come to be summed up in what has been called constitutional patriotism. It consists, in reality, in adhering to the minimums of justice that a society cannot renounce without falling below the minimum of humanity, and that must be supported by the different ethical standards of maximums.

Cosmopolitan ethics

As we move forward, we get deeper and deeper into the concept of cosmopolitan ethics, to finish the last two chapters of the book dedicated to cosmopolitanism.

Heir to the enlightenment aoga by a society of free people, capable of presenting their objections to the claims that are claimed to be rational.

It is a global ethic for solving global problems. that encompasses the whole of humanity and nature on which we make decisions that affect us all. The need to understand and integrate different cultures, but under a XNUMXst century global justice to defend the ends that are decided important for all and that we must prioritize.

Radical evil, for its part, consists of the tendency to prioritize selfishness over the moral law, to follow the maxim of self-interest against which we would universalize to agree with humanity. This prioritization of selfishness, which is a constant in the moral world, is at the base of the Latin video dictum meliora proboque deteriora sequor.

But the author leaves a utopian cosmopolitan city to speak of the problems that this iste would present and especially the problems that we would have if we tried to implement this system.

People must be empowered to be an end in themselves. A cosmopolitan ethic without global justice is impossible, but this would require a world government, something out of future prospects.

Although more and more due to globalization there are cases

As you can see, a lot to read and reflect on.

We talk about what I think is a typo

On page 84, it is spoken is said verbatim

We know that the Sarnago Association, that Soriano town that Julio Llamazares recounted so well in The Yellow Rain -because the towns relate-, has managed to rehabilitate and recover it, ...

Well, the population referred to in the novel by Julio Llamazares (reviewed on the blog) is Ainielle, and it is in Huesca.

Interesting quote

interdisciplinary nature is constitutive of human knowledge. As the creators of the Humboldt University of Berlin knew well, human rationality is unique, in its theoretical, practical or technical use, and its unity appears in the different fields of knowledge from the philosophy that is as a "meta-knowledge"


  • Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Matter by Ernst Friedrich Schumacher
  • Republicanism of Philip Pettit
  • The red leaf of Miguel Delibes
  • The two cultures and the scientific revolution. By British physicist and novelist CP Snow
  • The Utilitarianism of John Stuart Mill
  • A new history of the humanities by Rens Bod

There are 3 more interesting but I have read them

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