Rawls’s explicit discussion of cosmopolitanism occurs entirely within two brief sections of The Law of Peoples although he makes remarks related to the theme elsewhere in that book and in the preceding article, “The Law of Peoples.” There is no commonly agreed upon deinition of cosmopolitanism in political philosophy; but it is fair to say that it involves at least the views that duties of justice extend beyond compatriots to include noncompatriots and that individuals are the proper object of concern in accounts of global and international justice. When Rawls contrasts his Law of Peoples to cosmopolitanism he usually has in mind versions of cosmopolitanism that extend aspects of his justice as fairness to relations between noncompatriots. Rawls draws three contrasts between his views and cosmopolitanism. One is methodological; another concerns the substance of principles of international justice; and the third, merely implicit, regards the extent to which nonliberal states should be tolerated as full members of international society.
Regarding methodology, Rawls takes cosmopolitanism to be based upon a different constructivist justiicatory account. Rawls develops the Law of Peoples by means of an account that employs an original position in which representatives of liberal and decent peoples decide in two separate steps on principles of justice.