Citizens of the Cosmos? How the limitations of Kwame Appiah and the Marvel Cinematic Universe contribute to a reimagining of partial cosmopolitanism
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This thesis explores the competing models of partial cosmopolitanism suggested by Kwame Appiah and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This exploration is undertaken as a response to a larger concern with the place of difference within a shared humanity. To do this, this thesis examines first the history and the influences of the models of cosmopolitanism that Appiah and the Marvel Cinematic Universe suggest; it then completes a thematic analysis of these models, before comparing and contrasting the two models in a dialectical approach. The models are also located within a broader theoretical context, with a consideration of Marxist / neo-Marxist and popular cultural theory providing background and grounding for this thesis. This thesis argues that the models of partial cosmopolitanism that Appiah and the Marvel Cinematic Universe suggest are, individually, insufficient answers to the question of difference. They suffer from similar limitations, such as an inability to be considered as anything other than theoretical and an inaccessibility to anyone without significant levels of actionable agency. This thesis instead argues that a synthesis of these two models is required. A third model of partial cosmopolitanism is outlined; this model of situational cosmopolitanism combines aspects of Appiah’s ethical cosmopolitanism and the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s reactive cosmopolitanism, and extends this synthesis through the use of Joseph Fletcher’s situation ethics. Situational cosmopolitanism suggests a cosmopolitanism that is context dependent; it also requires the participation of not just those with high levels of actionable agency but those with lower levels as well. It is underpinned by notions of partiality and driven by the desire to lay the foundations for a future that is better – more equal, fair, and just – than today. It is an ongoing aspiration, understanding that there is no cosmopolitan state to be reached, just an ethos to be fostered and encouraged.