Fortunately, as Professor Nussbaum points out, we all have many identities at the same time, so there is no necessary conflict between the moral obligations of national citizenship and of world citizenship. I am delighted that she has chosen to tackle the thorny issues of cosmopolitanism: are national boundaries really irrelevant in determining one’s moral obligations; what precisely are “the substantive universal values of justice and right;” indeed, can any conception of universal justice escape being culture bound, and can it achieve a global consensus among the world’s people who will view it through the prisms of their own cultures?
I certainly agree that it is better for everyone everywhere to know more about the world and the other people in it, and we should all be aware of ourselves not only as part of humanity but as part of life on earth in an expanding universe. At the same time, I suspect that there is some position between a bland and undefined universal goodness on the one hand and a murderous nationalism on the other. That territory seems interesting to me and also extremely important, so I will help the National Endowment for the Humanities pursue its conversation about what it means to be an American and about what values we need to share in our pluralistic country in order to make democracy work. One might even argue that if we cannot make cultural pluralism work within a single country — especially a country like the United States with powerful universal values of liberty and equality shaping the civic sense as well as the legal structure of obligations and expectations — then the chances for cosmopolitanism are not very good. I nevertheless wish Professor Nussbaum every success in her important quest, and I hope to have her blessing in mine.