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"Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism in Cicero’s De officiis"

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Lunch Lecture


November 22, 2019

Event Subtitle / Short Description

Please RSVP by Monday, November 18th to [email protected]

Speaker & Affiliation

Jed Atkins, Duke University, James Madison Program Visiting Fellow and Visiting Associate Professor in the Department of Politics


12:00 pm - 1:20 pm
161 East Pyne


Cicero’s De officiis is a foundational text for two important but seemingly opposed traditions in the history of political thought: republicanism and cosmopolitanism.  The former regards the res publica as the proper object of its citizens’ highest allegiance and patriotism as an indispensable virtue.  On the other hand, cosmopolitanism holds that one’s greatest allegiance should be to a notional world community of all human beings.  Scholars usually regard Cicero’s strong commitment to the res publica as the product of his unreflective Roman patriotism, which is necessarily at odds with his cosmopolitan account of justice.  In contrast, I suggest that Cicero offers philosophical arguments for the priority of the res publica that derive from the same Stoic account of sociability that grounds his cosmopolitanism.  De officiis therefore presents a coherent account of what we might call “patriotic cosmopolitanism.”