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Nussbaum’s journey through the cosmopolitan tradition begins with Cicero, particularly his final treatise, De Officiis (On Duties), which she regards as a foundational contribution to the Western tradition of political philosophy. In that work, Cicero makes a distinction between “duties of justice,” which he sees as strict and universal, and “duties of material aid,” which are far more discretionary. In practical terms, duties of justice oblige us to prevent, punish, or otherwise object to crimes such as torture, rape, and murder wherever they occur; that is, we must not only avoid such unjust acts, but also intervene to prevent them if we are able. Duties of material aid imply merely that there are instances when we should extend assistance to the needy, but with a preference for those in our own family, tribe, or nation. Nowadays, the Ciceronian distinction between duties is manifested in the difference between “first-generation” religious and political rights and “second-generation” economic and social rights. But Nussbaum sees this bifurcation as incoherent. If one has a duty to prevent aggressive war, torture, rape, and other crimes, one likewise ought to prevent hunger and poverty. And besides, upholding political justice costs as much money as, and usually more than, providing material aid does. Inasmuch as one accepts the universality of human dignity, one must acknowledge all assaults upon it, whatever form they take.

The reason Stoicism has "been ransacked by corporate consultants and self-help gurus in recent years".

Stoic cosmopolitanism has long served as the basis for a particularly business-friendly conception of natural law. Proponents of this view believe that, like the outcomes of free markets, the conventions governing international commerce emerged naturally over thousands of years. Accordingly, the law of commerce is said to represent a higher authority than the laws of any single state. In the context of today’s global economy—which is in fact a concessionary political arrangement built for and by Western economic interests—that higher authority is now represented by multilateral financial institutions, sovereign bond markets, and the like. These entities decide on the metrics by which the outcomes of economic policy are assessed, and then set the limits of what governments can and cannot get away with when it when it comes to formulating economic policy.

- Stuart Whatley reviewing Martha C. Nussbaum's The Cosmopolitan Tradition