As a committed liberal, Stanley Hoffmann devoted his life’s work to the protection of vulnerable individuals in the stormy context of world affairs. This article explores Hoffmann’s international liberalism in relation to the international liberalism of John Rawls, whose work Hoffmann described as learned and fascinating, but of little relevance to reality for international relations. This is surprising in light of their shared emphases on reforming state institutions and reconciling citizenship with cosmopolitan duty. I suggest that Hoffmann’s skepticism is rooted in his unease with Rawls’s re-deployment of the social contract to describe a “realistic utopia” for international relations, which Hoffmann considered to be both overly utopian and overly realistic, as becomes particularly vivid in relation to the place of nonliberal peoples in a liberal international society. Despite these disagreements, I suggest that Hoffmann shared many of Rawls’s key positions and aspirations, and that the two must be seen as fellow travelers in the global project of political liberalism.


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pp. 93-112
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