Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Colby Access Only)


Colby College. Government Dept.


Joseph Reisert

Second Advisor

Lydia Moland


A constant in the modern era is the assumption that regimes, legitimate and illegitimate, represent distinct nation-states. These nation-states have become the assumed natural condition for a state, and a necessary precondition for legitimacy through democracy. Weighing the moral benefits and detriments of the nation-state model is becoming more difficult as globalization and multiculturalism take their toll on a system not designed to deal with them. However, the hybridization of the words nation and state, along with concepts related to them, have become increasingly muddled and interchangeable. In direct opposition to nationalism, cosmopolitanism holds that states descriptively can and normatively should be founded on some basis other than ethnonationality, and should be linked together with world-wide structures. I examine the competition between the two from a theory perspective, relying especially on Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Jürgen Habermas, to examine both the possibility and desirability of ethnonationalism and non-nationalistic means of creating a state. In examining the benefits and pitfalls of both, I seek to describe what would characterize what solidarity and related values would serve as the substrate for the best state possible.


Full-text download is restricted to Colby College.


international relations, nation-states, theory