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Reading Notes

PHIL 458

Table of contents
  1. “Famine, Affluence, and Morality” – Peter Singer (1972)
  2. “Justice and International Relations” – Charles Beitz (1975)
  3. “Humanity and Justice in Global Perspective”, Brian Barry (1982)
  4. “What Is So Special about Our Fellow Countrymen?” – Robert E. Goodin (1988)
  5. “The Ethical Significance of Nationality” – David Miller (1988)
  6. “Cosmopolitanism and Sovereignty” – Pogge (1992)
  7. “Distributive Justice, State Coercion, and Autonomy” – Michael Blake (2006)
  8. “Rawls’ Law of Peoples: Rules for a Vanished Westphalian World” – Allen Buchanan (2000)
  9. “Responsibility and Global Justice: A Social Connection Model” – Iris Marion Young (2006)
  10. “Associative Duties, Global Justice, and the Colonies” – Ypi, Goodin, Barry (2009)
  11. “Relational Equality and Immigration” – Daniel Sharp (2009)

“Famine, Affluence, and Morality” – Peter Singer (1972)

  • November 1971 – East Bengal starvation and death is not irreconcilable; it is not a ‘natural’ problem but rather a human one, people have not given enough to relief funds (2)
  • The Bengal emergency is one of many emergencies, and we need to change how we (as citizens of affluent countries) look at them (3)
  • Assumption: suffering and death from lack of basic neccessities is bad. If we are able to prevent something bad without a similarly high moral sacrifice, we are morally obligated to do so (3)
  • Although this latter principle seems obvious, in fact it fundametnally changes how we are to live our lives.
  • Derivations:
    • Distance does not matter, so the neighbor’s child should not have any difference from the Bengali child (5). We cannot discriminate upon someone merely by their distance.
    • It does not matter if I am the only one or if I am just one among a few in the same position (5). Even if there is a psychological difference, this does not necessarily mean anything for our moral obligations.
  • There may be a paradox: that one should give all of what one has until they are barely surviving, and there emerges an excess for the Bengals. But this assumes that the relief is given unexpectedly and simultaneously
  • Traditional moral categories are disrupted. Duty vs charity – no longer such a clean divide. (8)
    • People do not feel guilty about spending money on new resources instead of giving it to famine relief. This cannot be justified.
    • To give is not to be charitable or generous, but your duty.
    • Giving is not supererogatory: we ought to give money away, and it is wrong not to do so.
  • Objection: this is too deviant, too foreign a concept (9)
    • Descriptive vs normative
    • Sidgwick and Urmson: a basic mroal code must not too far supercede the capacities of the ordinary man
  • We ought to be preventing as much suffering as we can do. And this is an obligation which remains despite our success in fulfilling it. (11)
  • Some will point towards the state, and this is good, but one should not then retract their giving unless this giving will likely prompt the state to give much more (12)
  • A moderate principle and a strong principle: no reason to choose the former over the latter, but that the former is hard to accept is awa moment of reflection in itself. (14-15)
  • What role do philosophers play in public affairs? Supposedly it is descriptive.
  • Philosophers must practice what they preach, and start by giving. Harmony of theory and practice (16)

“Justice and International Relations” – Charles Beitz (1975)

  • Certainly there are humanist arguments that those in affluent countries shuold support those in poorer countries. But are there stronger obligations to justice? Structural reform?
    • Utilitarian: diff. between humanitarian aid and social justice obligations are not important. Utility does not respect natural boundaries.
    • Contractarian: people stand in a national community united by common acceptance of a concepiton of justice
  • Criticisms of Rawls: principles ought to apply globally (universally), not just across the nation-state.

I: Rawls on International Justice

  • Justice is the first virtue of social institutions.
  • The primary subject of justice is the basic structure of society – the way in which social institutions distribute fundametnal rights and duties and determine the division of advantages from social cooperation.
  • If national boundaries are significant, then justice does not hold across people of different nationality.
  • When we assume countries are interdependent, principles need to apply at a global level.
  • The original position can be considered as a sort of international conference.
    • The law of nations for Rawls applies to a world of just states.
    • Original position is incomplete for international situations.
  • Two elements for material advancement of society: cooperative activity and the natural component
    • Cooperative activity: subject to domestic principles of justice
    • Nautral component: morally relevant even without international cooperation

II: Natural Resources

  • Natural resources are distributed unevenly
  • Natural endowments are neither just nor unjust, but natural facts.
  • An unjust society distributes the benefits of social cooperation according to a morally arbitrary criterion.
  • Problems with Rawls’ treatment of ‘natural talents’
    • Unclear what morally arbitrary means
    • Natural talents are part of the self, and perhaps one’s talents are protected by personal liberty consdierations.
  • Parallel to resources:
    • Resource endowments are arbitrary in that they are not deserved
    • Unlike talents, resources are not attached to people
  • Talents are what the self is – they help constitute personality. But natural resources seem more oncintgent; not parts of the self to begin wtih, need to be appropriated first. Personal liberty claims do not apply in the same way.
  • Natural distribution of resources is purer than a ‘morally arbitrary’ distribution fo talents.
  • NO one has a naturally given prima facie claim to resources which ‘happen’ to be in their land
  • Under the veil of ignorance, parties agree to an equitable resource redistribution principle
  • What counts as a natural resource? Does food count as a natural resource?


  • So far, assumed that nations are self-sufficient cooperative schemes, but this is empirically untrue.
  • Capital surpluses are reinvested in conditiosn which promise the highest yield. Value created in one part of the world benefits a richer part of the world.
  • Poor countries lose political economy
  • Economic interdependence involves largely nonvoluntary relationships
  • National boundaries are not the outer limits of social cooperation – this is empirically true.
  • So do national boundaries have any fundametnal moral significance?
  • National societies can no longer be viewed as ultimate
  • Objections to Rawls applied at the global level seem not to hold up.
  • Relations between nations appear more voluntary than relations between citizens in a state.


  • Rawls’ derivation of principles of justice for the law of nations is incomplete – neglected resource redistribution
  • The self-sufficiency assumption is empricially unsupported.
  • A state-centered image of the world loses its normative relevance in a globally economically interdependent world.
  • What relevance do social ideals have for politics in the real world?
  • Rawls: the natural duty of justice
  • Ideal theory gives us criteria for formualting strategies of political action in the nonideal world
  • In the nonideal world, the natural duty of justice may conflict with other duties
  • Nonintervention vs commitment to protection of civil rights
  • The contract doctrine can help us more from statist to global understandings of international justice

For purposes of moral choice, we must, instead, regard the world from the perspective of an original position from which matters of national citizenship are excluded by an extended veil of ignorance

AI Provided Summary

  • Section I: The author introduces the question of global justice and criticizes Rawls’ theory of justice for neglecting it. He argues that Rawls’ two principles of justice, which apply to domestic societies, do not adequately address the issues of international justice, such as the distribution of natural resources and the effects of economic interdependence. He suggests that Rawls’ brief remarks on the law of nations, which are based on a hypothetical international original position, are incomplete and unrealistic. He proposes to extend and modify Rawls’ theory to account for the moral implications of global social cooperation.
  • Section II: The author reviews Rawls’ discussion of international justice and shows that it makes sense only on the empirical assumption that nation-states are self-sufficient. He then challenges this assumption and shows that it neglects certain problems about natural resources. He claims that the natural distribution of resources is morally arbitrary and requires redistribution under a resource redistribution principle. He compares this principle to the difference principle and the just savings principle in domestic societies.
  • Section III: The author questions the empirical foundation of the self-sufficiency assumption and sketches the consequences for Rawlsian ideal theory of abandoning it. He argues that evidence of global economic and political interdependence shows the existence of a global scheme of social cooperation, which requires global principles of justice. He suggests that Rawls’ own two principles, suitably reinterpreted, could themselves be applied globally. He explains how the original position would be modified to reflect the global scope of social cooperation.
  • Section IV: The author explores the relation of an ideal theory of international justice to some representative problems of politics in the nonideal world. He discusses how global principles would apply to cases involving unjust wars, human rights violations, foreign aid, and resource conservation. He acknowledges some difficulties and limitations of his approach and calls for further inquiry into the question of global justice.

“Humanity and Justice in Global Perspective”, Brian Barry (1982)

Three theses

  • Considerations of humanity require rich countries to give aid to poor ones
  • Considerations of justice require transfers from rich countries to poor ones
  • Aid vs transfer: obligations imposed by humanity and justice are different, although not incompatible.


  • What would it mean to act in a humane way? A human act is beneficient.
  • humanity – the relief of distress.
  • Three questions:
    1. Is it morally obligatory to behave humanely, or simply laudable?
    2. What implications does moral obligations have for the distribution of resources?
    3. On what criterion do we determine how much rich countries should give to poor ones?
  • Indeed, there are duties of humanity (e.g. save the drowning child).
  • Does the drowning child extent to international aid? Yes
    • Countries are responsible for their economic problems. But this does not mean that we should not help them, even if it is true, which it is likely not.
    • SInger: neither proximity nor number of rescuers matters. Some objections: well proximity is just infeasible. But we should not contract the sphere of opertion because we can’t do anything. Or maybe presence of other rescuers does matter. But if the child dorwns because none of the potential rescuers save it, all of them are morally responsible.
    • Argument of bureaucratic inefficiency: there will be a lot of waste. But what is left over will help a non-negliglbe amount.
    • Neo-Malthusian argument: only effect is to lead to population increase and more suffering. But empriically this is not true.
    • Ideological and political dogmas can change, and we should not be under the illusion that they cannot (and hide behind it to withhold giving aid).
  • How much aid is required?
    • One is obliged to help up to a point in which one sacrifices somehting of “comparable moral importance” – maximizing consequentialism.
    • But do we really have an obligation to maximize the total amount of good in the universe?
    • There is no firm criterion for how much sacrifice is required. But there is a greater obligation the more severe the distress.
    • Kind of ‘you know when you see it’ answer as far as I estimate


  • We should not expect to get a blueprint for a good society from a conception of justice.
  • Obligation is not derived from justice
  • Justice is a set of reasons why people may have duties to one another and institutions
  • Justice as reciprocity
    • Justice as fidelity: keeping faith
    • Justice as requital: fair return / exchange
    • Jusitce as fair play: one should not be a free rider by taking the benefits. One can use the principle of fair play to rescue the drowning child without commiting oneself to a universal obligation of rescue.
  • Drowning child case is overdetermined when duty of fair play underwrites rescue: reinfrocement between humanity, fidelity and fiar play.
    • Obligations to humanity do not depend on consdierations of reciprocity
  • This is the Rawlsian entrance: society is a scheme of social cooperation from which we get the concepts of justice; but it only generates whatever its cooperative practices justice. Rawls can only say that a society suffers from collective irrationality but cannot cannot show a society is unjust.
  • Charles Beitz argues for the global difference principle.
    • One cannot use a cooperative scheme to argue that it is unfair not to have more cooperation
    • The whole world does not constitute necessarily a single cooperative partnership
    • International redistribution does not necessarily help both rich and poor countries.
  • Does trade constitute a cooperative scheme? Trade does not give rise to the duties of fair play per se – it must be that public goods are collectively enjoyed. But there is no sort of shared unitization from trade.
    • Trade is, however, the rudimentary organs of international cooperation
    • Is there mutual beneficiality? Redistribution on the insurance principle has little appeal for rich countries
  • Justice as Equal Rights
    • HLA Hart: are there any natural rights? Speical rights must presuppose general rights
    • Just as reciprocity needs rights to be assigned already.
    • The question is the initial injustice of rights.
    • The ‘pre-predicative’ distribution of rights is equal.
  • The equality principle can be exploited by first-world countries to take third world countries’resources
  • International institutions
    • Perfect Humean equilibrium: existence of redistributive institutions, beliefs on the legitimacy of redistribution – organize each other.
    • The public sets the very terms of the conversation. (hmm… what is he really saying here?)
  • International Taxation (24)
    • Two alternative approaches to a taxation scheme:
      • base taxes on both humanitarian and justice grounds
      • have comprehensive taxes and distribute proceeds among poor countries
    • Tax governments of rich countries and distribute to poor countries
    • GNP reflects use of irreplacable natural resources
    • Taxes not related to some aspect of justice should be rejected – it’s too arbitrary. This money should go straight to poor countries

The Relations Between Humanity and Justice

  • Both humanity and justice require a substantial expansion in the scale of economic transfers
  • Rationales are different, and so are practical implications.
  • Rights and goals. Obligations of humanity are goal-based (aggregative); obligations of justice are rights-based (distributive)
  • Humanity directs us to relieve suffering where it occurs – concerned with well-being and fulfillment.
  • Justice is concerned with the good and the bad states, and what responsibilities we have towards the former.
    • Subject matter: distribution of control over material resources
  • Humanity is a question of doing good; justice is a question of power
  • What is the difference between distribution of stuff against welfare?
  • Justice is concerned with materials which support the material means of well-being.
    • Is justice then concerned with the goal of well-being? Is justice a derivative principle?
    • Two questions: What is the deployment of resources to promote happiness and reduce misery? What is the ethically defensible basis for allocating control over resources?
  • Rich countries concede a humanitarian obligation to assist poor countries.
  • Even with humanitarian aid, there is a division between donor countries free to spend ‘their’ incomes; donee countries must be ‘responsible’
  • Justice consideration transfers: reduce the resources of one set of countries, and add it to another set. So it is more about redistribution than anything – about the power to even decide what humanitarian goals even mean for that country.
  • If resources are justly owed to a country, then they are that country’s, period.
  • A world with an international authority which allows countries to keep income which is justly distributed internally rejects principles of national autonomy.
  • The price of autonomy is the permission of waste.
  • However we cannot have autonomy for some and Marxist supervision for tohers – that would not be just.
  • We cannot talk about humanity unless we have a baseline set by justice.
  • The need for humanitarian aid is reduced in a world which has a basically just international distribtuion.

“What Is So Special about Our Fellow Countrymen?” – Robert E. Goodin (1988)

  • We have some duties towards people because they are people, and special duties to those in particular relation with us
  • Sometimes we have stronger duties to those outside our nation than those within it.
  • What morally matters is not nationality per se

The Particularist’s Challenge

  • Modern moral philosophy has been very universalistic, even if it has varied applications
  • Corollary of universality is impartiality
  • Utilitarians and Kantians unite!
  • Perhaps universalism is a feature of morality itself.
  • Perhaps there are special duties to some people that we don’t have to others
    • Maybe it is an addition to moral law.
    • Maybe it is extramoral.
    • Maybe it is derivative to universalism.
  • Do we owe compatriots a special sort of treatment? Common-sense morality largely consists of such obligations.
  • What is the true nature of special duties?

The Case of Compatriots

  • It is usually assumed that we owe more to our fellow compatriots than to foreigners
  • We can, through public officials, take the property of our fellow citizens for public purposes, but not the same for a foreigner
  • We can conscript citizens for service but not foreigners
  • We can tax citizens but not foreigners residing abroad on income earned abroad
  • Basically we can fuck over people in our vicinity because they are within our power, but we have to be more careful with foreigners.
  • But also citizens are allowed to vote, we should treat them better, etc.
  • The situation is very mixed indeed

Special Duties as Magnifiers and Multipliers

  • Commonsense morality tends to employ two basic models, magnifiers and multipliers
  • Magnifiers
    • Imperfect duties are transformed into perfect duties
    • No one should starve, but it is especially wrong that our compatriots should starve.
    • But if we want to magnify duties, then positive duties should be stronger, but also so should negative duties.
    • Certainly, positive duties become stronger.
    • But negative duties do not become stronger. In fact non-nationals have stronger negative duties than nationals.
  • Multipliers: special relationships multiply existing duties, i.e. creating new special duties other than the general ones de novo from contracts.
    • Does this apply for negative duties? In fact, special relationships require sacrificing negative duties in favor of positive ones.
    • Multiplication produces more duties, but we find less (negative) ones.
  • A relationship remains a two-way affair, and special duties follow from this contract.
  • Each one of us suffers from additional duties which impose an extra burden of us, which is the weakning of negative duties.
    • This imposition is legitimate because there are special contracts.
    • This is the standard social contract position, in the state of nature there are no duties
    • People welcome special relationships because strengthening positive duties comes with a weakning of negative duties.
    • However, magnifier and multiplieir models have been reduced to “mutual benefit socieities” – but this is not the case.

The Mutual Benefit Society Model

  • We have a strong obligation to leave foreigners as we found them, according to conventional wisdom.
  • Nation-states are conceptualized as mutual-benefit societies. It is permissible to impose sacrifices so they may benefit in the future.
  • Basically, under this model, if you are in, then we focus on improving your condition (possibly via short-term harms). But if you are not, then we focus on not harming you (at the expense of development).
  • Suppose national boundaries circumscribe mutual benefit societies.
  • The issue is determining who is inside the club and who is outside the club
  • Who is a citizen? What is not? Who gets to be a member of the club?
  • Counterexamples
    • Resident aliens: net contributors to society, but denied full benefits.
    • Natural born citizens: may be net drains on society, but given full benefits.
  • Mutual benefit soceity requires that people’s benefits from society are proportional to the sacrifices they have made towards that production.
    • We only have special duties to those whose cooperation benefits us.
  • Maybe border lines are mere formalistic devices for identifying possible members of contribution to the mutual benefit society.
  • Many societies exploit “guest workers” – using mutual benefit society logic, this is blatantly wrong.

The Assigned Responsibility Model

  • Special duties are mere distributed general duties.

Special duties are in my view merely devices by which the moral community’s general duties get assigned to particular agents. For this reason, I call mine an “assigned responsibility” model.

  • Special duties are merely derivative from general duties
  • Special duties are susceptible to being overriden and have no special independent force.
  • Our fellow countrymen are not so special after all
  • Drowning swimmer on the beach: no one is naturally picked out as the appropriate person to help, if everyone helped they woudl get in each other’s way, so socially we have a lifeguard.
  • States have special duties to their citizens, but not in any ‘specially special’ way. They are merely general duties which everyone has to everyone worldwide.
  • There are certainly reasons why nationality might have psychological force, but these are not moral reasons. They influence the redrawing of boundaries in service of special responsibilities.
  • No state has a claim against other states for positive assistance in promoting its own citizens’ interest (that is its own responsibility)
  • We are obliged to leave foreigners as we have found them because they have been assigned to another state.
  • Mutual benefit society says that those who do not contribute to society should be cast out. But the state is responsible to them and discharges general rights.
  • Everyone must be assigned an advocate or protector.
  • In mutual-benefit logic, boundaries circumscribe groups of people who produce benefits for each other; by the assigned responsibility model, states should be assigned to be able to care for their citizens.


  • Boundaries matter, but it is boundaries around people which matter.
  • We shouldn’t fetishize boundaries. They are useful boundareis.
  • Citizenship is a device for fixign speical responsibility.

In the present world system, it is often-perhaps ordinarily-wrong to give priority to the claims of our compatriots.

(Why so?)

Notes – it seems this model is convincing, and has good normative recommendations. But it does not seem to address the much more pressing questions of how these normative recommendations square with the state of the world. For instance, some nation-states may argue that they cannot serve their own citizens’ interests because historically they have been exploited by other nation-states. Therefore they demand reparations, and even commit terrorism, etc. What is to be done here? It seems this model does not have a good account of conflict, or of secession and annexation. What about colonialism? If the quality of life improves for people, then is it right? Does consent factor here? What does this have to say about immigration? We should accept as much until we cannot serve our own population. Does this article account for justice?

“The Ethical Significance of Nationality” – David Miller (1988)

I: Introduction, exposition of argument, definition of nation / nationality

  • Objective: defend the view that national boundaries are ethically significant
  • We behave as if this were true, e.g. for welfare measures
  • Prominent thrust of ethical theories towards universalism, independent of local connections
  • An argument directed against naive internationalism with inadequate ethical development
  • Realist tones underlying the introduction
  • National boundaries are not the same as borders between states
    • National identities may be shared across states
    • “You know it when you see it”
    • There is no objective criterion which demarcates nations
    • “Nationality is essentially a subjective phenomenon, constituted by the sahred beliefs of a set of people: a belief that each belongs together with the rest; that this association is neither transitory nor merely instrumental but stems from a long history of living together”
    • Some level of political autonomy and poltiical aspiration
    • It does not matter if the beliefs that members hold in a nation are necessary true.
    • Can moraly accomodate those who hold false beliefs?

II. Particularism vs universalism

  • Surely ethics must be definition deriv efrom universal and rationally grounded principles
  • The issue is that the moral subject is treated as an abstract individual possessed with capacities of human beings but not fundamentally committed to any particualr particularities.
  • Particular duties, responsibilities, and rights are never regarded fundamentally (always derived from the rational and the universal)
  • On the other hand, consider another perspective in which the subject is already seen as deeply embedded in social relationships already with (partial) commitments. The agent can aspire to rationality, but it is not abstract rationality, rather reflecting on existing commitments.
  • Examinations
    • Maybe my group does not really exist as a group, my commitment is based on false assumptions
    • Are my existing commitments coherent? Maybe there is a contradiction in my commitments and I cannot be both kinds of people, and I need to decide which commitment is more fundamental
  • Ethical particularism is not a simply irrationalist outlook which elevates existing prejudices to objective truths.
  • Miller’s defense is that it is practical to have these ambitions.

III. Existing universalist approaches do not consider nationality to be significant

  • “Universalism can generate surrogates for national attachments but not the genuine article”
  • We can interpret the significance of social boundaries in contractual Kantian terms. “Mutual benefit societies”.
    • Problems that Goodin raises
    • But also: obligations are tied to existing practices. Yet in the absence of practice I have no obligation to contribute. So basically these contract theories apply more to states than nations.
    • Nationality is not a cooperative practice as much as it is a grouunding for such a practice – it is a preexisting attachment.
    • The ethical significance of nationality might remain even if states do not eist to capture them.
  • Goodin’s approach: interpret boundaries as a convenient way to allocate responsibilities that derive from general duties.
    • How utilitarians approach the boundaries issue – a solution to a coordination / distribution problem.
    • Issues
    • Boundaries enclose people with very different levels of living. Whya re we putting the badly off in charge of the badly off and the well off in charge of the well off?
    • Again, applies to states and not really to nationality.
  • Most accounts of special duties ignore nationality altogether.
  • But Miller wants to take nationality seriously.

IV: Articulating the critique of the nation

  • Particularists use specific attachments to make their point under the expectation that they will carry particular weight
  • 20th century nationalism has left a distaste in liberals’ and Leftists’ mouths. Perhaps the nation itself is a suspect category.
  • Nations are “imagined communities” – bounds are fictitious, national allegiances cannot withstand rational reflection
  • In one sense, nations cannot be genuine communities. But there are also broader concepts of communities, e.g. “The Jewish community”
  • Nations are not formed from ethnic self-definition but the “exigencies of power” – antionality is a manufactured item. It is a work of invention built on shared history. Creating an “ideological myth of origins and descent”
  • Does the mythic origin history at the center of a nation make national loyalties incapable of withstanding rational reflection?
  • Distinction:
    • Beliefs which constitutive social relationships
    • Beliefs in the background which support constitutive beliefs
      • Genetic relationships are a support to the actual lovingness and mutual supports which make a family a family
      • The family remains intact even if there is a false belief.
  • The mythical origin story of a nation counts as a backgroundr ather than as a constitutive belief. The story is told for self-definition, and the relationships which form out of that persist even as the scaffold falls away.
  • Suppposedly it is constitutive of national identity that members of a nation have shared characteristics which justify political aggregation. Criticism: nationalities are heterogeneous populations masquerading as ethnic groups
  • Can there be a public culture shared among people with differing private cultures?
  • Nationality is going to inevitably trespass some on ethnicity and require curtailing of ethnic identity

V: Responding to critiques of the nation

  • Two strategies to respond to the critique of nationality
  • Remain in the particularist framework, defend national identities from within – defend the nation as an object of attachment
    • Using the nation as the “object of allegiance’ is not necessarily worse than other possible objects. Is ethnicity a more genuine form of allegiance than nationality? Ethnic identities are plastic too. Everything is plastic, socially fictitious. Nationality is rather self-sufficient and subject to rational control. The nation has political autonomy whereas other institutions do not. So it is better as a system for organizing political life.
  • Accept universalist terms and show on impartialist criteria that it is a good thing for people to have national attachments. (of course this is weak for particularists.)

VI: A universalist commentary – the dog crumbs

  • “Government house utilitarianism” – only a select minority can guide ethical behavior by universalist criteria. Therefore the universal stands in for the partciular.
  • Philip Pettit: a consequentialist case for acknowledging different specific loyalties
  • Does the universalist standard have practical force?
  • Michael Walzer: distributive justice presupposes a bounded world in which distribution takes place. But what is the scope of this bounded world? Nothing strictly incoherent in seeking to extend the range to cover the entire globe, but this is widely implausible.
  • Universalist case for nationality creates communities with the widest feasible membership
  • Acton: multinational state
  • Hayek: anxiety that liberalism is being corrupted by socialism and nationalism (inseparable), trible sentiments like the Great Society
  • Is our ethical concern a commodity in limited supply?
  • If we beign from a universalist criteria, we will not end up with nationality as the optimal basis for special obligations, still.

“Cosmopolitanism and Sovereignty” – Pogge (1992)

  • The human future seems open
  • Fukuyamist vision of the end of history – mutual pacifism of capitalist democracies
  • Borders become redrawn
  • Gradual global institutional reform
  • Pogge is something of a conventional liberal? Maybe?

Institutional Cosmopolitanism based on Human Rights

  • All cosmopolitan positions share three elements:
    • Individiualism: ultimate units of concern are human beings rather than states or other collectives
    • Universalism: concern for individuals is truly across all individualisms
    • Generality: there is global force, persons are units of concern for everyone, not only compatriots, fellow religionists, etc.
  • Distinction: Legal vs moral cosmopolitanism
    • Legal cosmopolitanism: concrete political ideal of a global order where all persons have equivalent legal rights and duties
    • Moral cosmopolitanism: all persons stand in certain moral relations to one another
    • Pogge is concerned with moral cosmopolitanism
    • Central idea: every human being has global stature as an ultimate unit of moral concern
  • Distinction: institutional vs interactional conceptions
    • Institutional conception: postulates fundamental principles of justice which apply to institutional schemes
    • Interactional conception: postulates fundamental principles of ethics which are first-order in applying to persons and groups
    • Interactional cosmopolitanism assigns direct rersponsibility to other agents, whereas institutional cosmopolitanism assigns it to institutional schemes (persons’ responsibilities are indirect)
    • Pogge foucuses on institutional cosmopolitanism
  • Two limitations of institutional conception.
    • Contingent applicability (emergence of social institutions)
    • Global moral force of human rights activated only via global scheme of social institutions.
    • These do not violate generality
  • Institutional approach goes beyond simple libertarianism without falling into a utilitarianism of rights which disregards our causal relation to harms.
  • Under the institutional view, third parties may be implicated more directly in human rights violations, whereas third parties can be neutral under the interactional view.
    • Institutional view broadens those who can be responsible without having to affirm positive duties
  • Negative duties may generate positive oglibations.
  • Interactional \(\to\) institutional prevents First World citizens from viewing themselves as morally disconnected from less fortune citizens of the Third World.
  • We share a collective responsibility for the justice of the existing global order
  • Is our global institutional scheme causallyr esponsible for current deprivations?
  • Focus on explanations: macroexplanation, microexplanation, etc. – do global differences indicate local explanations?
  • What is the ‘practical’ moral importance of shared responsibility for justice in a global institutional scheme?
  • One counterargument: an institutional scheme has highly limited bounds of responsibility. Implausible!
    • Irrational to assess social institutions without looking at effects
    • Social institutions are human artifacts
    • Incidental effects are normally taken into account in debates
  • A consequentialist account of social institutions
  • Michael Walzer: Distributive justice presupposes a bounded world, a community within which distributions take place.
    • Attacked by Robert Nozick: there is no central distribution, no group entitled to control all the resources
  • Institutional approach involves a conception of distirubtive justice different from Walzer’s
    • About how to choose and design economic ground rules which regulate property, cooperation, and exchange
    • This conditions production and distribution without requiring an already existing pool of resources
    • Does not presuppose the existence of a community of persons committed to share with each other (contract theory).
    • Rather, we face a choice of economic ground rules which are partially open, not fixed.
    • It is in fact morally wrong for affluent participants to perpetuate an unjust economic scheme., regardless of any communal bond
  • Institutional cosmopolitanism does not entail crisp practical conclusions. It is consequentialist, and therefore mediated by empirical conclusions.
    • Takes seriously a moral question of engendering consequences
    • A strict implication from the ground rules of an institutional scheme (“basic structure”?) to the effects
  • How is this different from Rawls? – question
  • On what basis do we posit the metaphysical existence of human rights? – question
  • Inference – Singer is, by Pogge’s model, an interactional cosmopolitan.

The Idea of State Sovereignty

  • A is sovreign over B iff
    1. A is a governmental body
    2. B are persons
    3. A has unsupervised and irrevocable authority over B
  • Moreover this sovereignty is absolute iff A is sovereign over B and no other agency has authority over A or over B which is not under A.
  • Modern political thought: the autonomous territorial state has become the preeminient form of political organization
  • Sovereignty is heavily concentrated at the single level. i.e. every individual owes obligations to one nation/state.
  • Cosmopolitan morality condemns concentration of sovereignty at one level
  • Vertical dispersal of governmental authority – centralization and decentralization.
  • Individuals should govern themselves without dominance of one political unit over the other.

“People should be politically at home in all of them.”

  • Objection 1: Sovereignty cannot be divided.
    • Hobbesian and Kantian dogmatism on absolute sovereignty
    • Juridical states must have total control over agency
    • But we can have different branches checking each other and still ahve sovereignty.
    • It is nonsense that sovereignty in a multilayered scheme must be concentrated on one level exclusively. Federalism
  • Objection 2: Vertical dispersal of sovereignty does not work for certain functions which are core to sovereingty, e.g. immigration (Walzer).
    • Walzer: insisting on openness to avoid a thousand petty fortresses asks too much of neighborhoods
    • A moral objection to states controlling immigraiton
    • Walzer is right that state control is better than none.
    • But state should have a say to admit neighborhoods willing to accept them. But neighborhoods can also keep them out to keep their culture.

Some main reasons for a vertical dispersal of sovereignty

  1. Peace/security: interstate rivalries are currentlys ettled via military competition. National governments do anything they want within their borders. We need a centrally enforced reduction in the dominance of state sovereignty.
  2. Reducing oppression – state sovereignty is used as a cover for domestic oppression, to handle ‘their’ populations when people are not the property principlally of any one state.
  3. Glboal economic justice – global sovereignty supports redistribution and encourages conservation. Global economic justice is an end in its own right which requires a redistribution of politicla authority.
  4. Ecology – modern processes of production and consumption generate ecologically negative externalities which are often the product of prisoner’s dilemmas set up via equivalent sovereign authority of nation-states. The degredation of the environment affects us all.
    • A multilayered state provides checks on oppression. Not calling for a world state. Cultural and social diversity too may be better protected at lower-level political units.
    • Democracy: people have a right to an institutional order under which those who are affected by a political decision should have equal opportunity to influence its making. Local autonomy
    • Objection to a human right to political participation/inclusion: what matters about political decisions is that they are correct, not necessarily their formation process. However, most poltiical choices are not morally closed. And there is a question of responsibility too.
    • Three sets of considerations
      • Decentralization – minimize decision-making burdens on individuals.
      • Centralization – necessary to avoid excluding affected persons from being involved in the decision. Kant – we cannot avoid affecting each other.
      • Correction / balance – a democratic political process of a unit as small as possible but including all affected persons. What emerges as the best vertical distribution from this balancing?
    • Weighting in correction/balance, two notes
      • The oppressed should be given more weight.
      • Commonalities of language, religion, ethnicity, and hisotry are irrelevant. They do not give people a claim to be part of each other’s political lives. (China & Taiwan?)
    • Democracy can take many forms. There is no one specific orientation recommended.

The Shaping and Reshaping of Political Units

  • A multilayer scheme is a feasible end of progressive gradualism – requires moderate centralizing and decentralizing wherever appropriate
  • Two procedural principles to govern geographical separation of political units at any level
    • Inhabitants of any contiguous territory may decide to join a willing and existing political unit.
    • Inhabitants of any contiguous derritory may decide to form a new political unit.
  • Conflicts over borders lose much of their intensity. Such conflicts often have morally inappropriate motivations. We often fight over borders because of the centralization of sovereignty at the national level.
  • Two amendments
    • Burden of proof rests with advocates of change
    • Require supermajoritarian process
  • The question fo paternalism
  • Pogge’s cosmopolitanism is “committed to the freedom of individual persons and therefore envisions a pluralist global institutional scheme.”
  • Criteria are partial functions left open to concretization
  • Issues with denying that the individual is the fundamental unit of moral concern
  • Others accept this premise but formulate the right of persons with essential reference to the state/nation to which they belong. (e.g. Walzer.)
    • Rebuttal: how is the derivation supposed to work?
  • Perhaps Pogge is a brutal idealist.

“Distributive Justice, State Coercion, and Autonomy” – Michael Blake (2006)

  • How can liberalism reconcile with state borders?
  • Liberals are committed to moral equality. Humanity can motivate a demand for equal concern. But liberalism traditionally applies only in a state.
  • Distributive justice: boundaries divide rich from poor
  • Allowing boundaries seems to put feudalism back into liberalism
  • Maybe liberalism is too particularistic.
  • Argument: globally impartial liberalism not incompatible with nationally specific distributive justice principles
    • Not because we care more about fellow countrymen, but because shared institutions create a special relationship
    • Concern for relative economic shares OK when applied to individuals sharing liability in a coercive network of state governance
    • Principles demand differently depending on their context.
    • Oweing different things is not partiality, but rather nuancing what ‘impartiality’ means.
  • Abroad: defend principles of sufficiency
  • Home: defend principles of distributive equality

Three Distinctions

Relative vs Absolute DeprivationInternational poverty in general should be condemned in terms of absolute deprivation. That other individuals have more is not essential to part of the claim. However, differences between haves and have-nots are often the target of moral condemnation itself. Moral gravity increases as inequality increases. We should condemn absolute deprivation for threatening autonomous agency, and relative deprivation when we share more than a common humanity.
Partial and Impartial Justificatory StrategiesTwo ways to justify deviation from impartial treatment: partiality (more common in intl poverty lit., how legitimate is it to prefer one’s own? familial relaitonships) and demands of equality (explain apparent inequality as a valid implication of impartial principle, e.g. equity – Aristotle’s wrestler; Hegelian interpretation? Equality passes into inequality, and then into a more complex unity).
Institutional and Noninstitutional TheoryNoninstitutional – abstract from current institutions and ask what we endorse starting tabula rasa. Institutional – examines the existing world. This article will be very institutional. Is institutional theory conservative? Blake – not necessarily.

“What looks like partiality is in fact the implication of an impartial principle under a different set of circumstances.”

  • The force of coercion requires us to have moral concern for relative deprivation.
  • No institution comaprable to the state exists in the international arena.
  • Only via citizenship can concern for relative equality be justified.
  • Principled division between citizen and stranger.
  • Argument structure
    1. Implications of the principle of autonomy
    2. Forms of justification that might legitimate violations of autonomy
    3. Only justifies relative inequality concern domestically
    4. Story time

Liberalism and Autonomy

  • Popular among the Kantians – liberlaism committed to the global protection of individual autonomy.
  • All humans have a moral entitlement to exist as autonomous agents
  • Joseph Raz’s autonomy: agents are the (part-)authors of their own lives. Preconditions:
    • appropriate mental abilities and rationality
      • mental skills to act as an agent
      • mental skills to see oneself as an agent
    • set of options must truly be free
    • incompatible with existence of corcion
  • Coercion is forbidden by a liberal principle of autonomy.
  • Important aspects of autonomy
    • Kantian respect for individual agency: pluralistic / individualistic. A matter of respect for developing specific plans,a ttachments, etc.
    • Autonomy cannot be satisfied merely by practical reason – not just a Sartrean existence of choice. Must be a social existence of choice. Creating value via creative engagement with the world. This value can be destroyed or respected by world institutions. Not cheap parchment rights
    • Autonomy does not demand maximization of number of available options (cheap ‘freedom’). We do not necessarily gain autonomy past a certain level. This fact leads to the conclusion about not needing to concern relative deprivation in the international arena.
    • Changing which options we have available is morally relevant, though. Has someone tried to subsume my will under theirs?
  • Rawls’ conception of rational autonomy – form, revise, and pursue a conception of the good
  • Two moral powers:
    • Power to act in accordance with a conception of justice
    • Power to form and pursue a conception of the good
  • Interpreting Rawls as a theory in which the coercive force of the state is justified to free and equal people.
  • Coercion
    • People can be denied autonomy by being starved, impoverished, etc.
    • Coercion is not just (limiting) the number of optionsa vailable, but the reasons
    • Coercion is intentional and expresses a relationship of domination
    • State punishment: coercion via criminal penalties.
  • Justification emerges
    • What is the nature of justification?
    • Where is the “justice” in “justification”? In some sense justification is the strongest force of them all.

Justification and Coercion, One – The Criminal Law

  • Some forms of coercion seem appropriate.
  • When can we justify an otherwise impermissible violation of autonomy?
  • A state must first be controllable by human agency before it can be condemned by a liberal principle of autonomy.
  • If I consent to it, then the moral harm of coercion no longer exists.
  • Justiification is not what is current but ex ante
  • Punishment for criminals – retributivism, the criminal as a rational agent has willed it hypothetically.
  • Scanlon’s notion of reasonable rejection, i.e. consent is not being able to possibly reject
  • Punishment is always an evil, even if it is a necessary evil.
  • Focus on state administering criminal law

Justification and Coercion, Two – The Civil law

  • Coercion is most stark in criminal punishment
  • Private law / contract law is full of coercion as well, though. You are compelled to obey
  • Proeprty law - commitment to force against people if they exert control over particular goods (in my property)
  • Taxation law - implicit threats of coercive state action.
  • Weber – state is the monopoly of the legitimate use of force
  • Such practices need to be justified too.
  • Coercion is present in fact in all legal rules
  • Private law needs as much justification as the practice of state punishmnet.
  • WHen is implicit state violence legitimate?
  • Law is a legal system
  • A Theory of Justice identifies the legal system with the basic structure.
  • Is there no equivalent to a corcive network of law at the international level? Coercion occurs, certainly, but the state holds a special relationship to individuals which is formally coercive which we do not have at the international level.
  • Possible objection: hegemonic nations coerce oppressed nations, which in turn coerce their own citizens.
  • How to distinguish legitimate coercion from illegitimate coercion?
  • Private law is directed at protecting private property; public law is directed at the body politic
  • Laws create a system of entitlements and property networks.
  • Consent is based on how we allocate and protect entitlements.
  • Individuals sharing a legal system share liability to a coercive legal system.
  • The content of the legal system can be justified through hypothetical consent of all that live within the system. (???)
  • Question – to what extent is this standard social contract theory stuff?
  • Coercive laws apply not simply to an individual but to a society. Justification is owed to every individual.

the liberal principle of autonomy is concerned equally with all the autonomy of all human beings, so that a coercive scheme enmeshing a wide set of individuals must be justified to each and every one of those so coerced

  • Question – to what extent does his focus on legality mean he overlooks forms of economic domination and coercion?
  • How can we prevent justifying principles which benefit some but are reasonably rejected by others in society? The Original Position. Abstract away morally arbitrary aspects of people.
  • Analysis of the original position allows us to see the “true purpose” of the difference principle: to justify coercion to all those coerced. We will offer you material egalitarianism in the difference principle, so you should accept our coercive scheme.
  • The conditions of consent in the arena are considerations of relative deprviation and material equality.
  • Liberalism is not committed to equality of mateiral shares in the global arena, therefore – only certain forms of legal coercion .
  • Those sharing liability to a coercive government must have relatively equal abilities to influence that government’s policies.
  • Liberal principle of autonomy applied across a body of individuals yields something like egalitarianism.
  • Impartial liberalism can consistently differentiate what is owed to fellow citizens and to human beings as such.

Rawls and Coercion

  • Goal: Rawls applies here.
  • Disagree with Rawls on the implications of his theory on the international arena.
  • “Political power is always coercive power backed by the government’s use of sanctions, for government alone has the authority to use force in upholding its laws.”
  • Rawls begins from the fact of state coercion and tries to find when it might be justifiable – iff it is a use of power by wihch citizens democratically coerce themselves.
  • Laws of society must be justifiable via public reason
  • Rawls intends principles of justice to hold for individuals sharing coercive political institutions, since they need to be justified via public reason.
  • Rawls: the state offers disaprate guarantees because it is doing different things to some, which stand in need of justification.

To insiders, the state says: Yes, we coerce you, but we do so in accordance with principles you could not reasonably reject. To outsiders, it says: We do not coerce you, and therefore do not apply our principles of liberal justice to you-although you do have an entitlement to the preconditions of autonomous functioning, and we will ensure that these are provided to you if you do not have them now.

  • Rawls: my theory does not apply to any sort of distribution of goods, like a university or a church
    • Libertarianism has no place for a basic structure because there is no public coercive law
  • Blake explains why Rawls maintains this focus

“Coercion implicates the ability of indiviudal agents to live their lives according to their own plans.”

(Certainly many people outside our borders are more coerced than many people inside our borders.)

  • Maybe Rawls’ focus on cooperation is problematic because it excises non-productive members of society
  • Membership before justification. (Why? This does not make sense…)
  • Society is not merely a cooperative venture for mutual advantage

Coercion, not cooperation, is the sine qua non of distributive justice, making relevant principles of relative deprivation.

IV – A tale of Two States, Borduria and Syldavia

  • Defense against the cosmopolitan critic
  • Borduria – advanced, Syldavia – developing due to poor resources, yet still adequate.
  • Are Bordurians bound by the logic of liberalism to accept a resource re-allocation scheme by the Syldavians? No – Bordurian are concrned with the protection of autonomy, so they are concerned with the relative material inequality of those coerced through Bordurian private law.
  • Charles Beitz and Thomas Pogge – mutual benefit across nations, using Rawlsian methods.
  • The original position cannot be used whenever there is a division of good, but to demonstrate what justification must be given for certain forms of coercion by representing all possible circumstances in which consent might be judged.
  • Brian Barry: no degree of economic interaction can form the moral equivlanet of the relational web between citizens of a modern state.
  • No obligation to maximzie the world’s welfare, but are under the obligation to avoid denying conditions of autonomy for all human beings.
  • Is Blake endorsing laissez-faire global economic relationships?


  • Inconsistency between apparent inequality and impartial principles is illusory
  • To deny American vote to an American citizen is worse than to deny American vote to a French citizen.

The mere fact of material inequality greater than that allowed by the difference principle, I think, has now been shown to be morally equivalent to the denial of the vote: between people who share a state it is morally prohibited, but it is not a valid implication of liberal equality for those who do not-a conclusion that holds true even if one’s citizenship is the result of facts that are, in themselves, morally arbitrary.

  • Borders of the state may be arbitrary but not irrelevant.
  • Let’s not put feudalism back into liberalism. Instead, we need to be more nuanced about what we mean by ‘impartial’.

“Rawls’ Law of Peoples: Rules for a Vanished Westphalian World” – Allen Buchanan (2000)

The Law of Peoples

  • Rawls extends his theory of justice beyond the individual state. The following principles are chosen:
    • Peoples are free and independent, and their freedom and independence are to be respected by other peoples.
    • Peoples are to observe treaties and undertakings.
    • Peoples are equal and are parties to the agreements that bind them.
    • Peoples are to observe a duty of nonintervention.
    • Peoples have the right of self-defense but no right to instigate war for reasons other than self-defense.
    • Peoples are to honor human rights.
    • Peoples are to observe certain specified restrictions on the conduct of war (or “just war principles”).
    • Peoples have a duty to assist other peoples living under unfavorable conditions that prevent their having a just or decent political and social regime.
  • Criticism: Rawls’ Law of Peoples is in fact a betrayal of liberalism because it legitimizes very illiberal states.
  • Target: Original Position based on representatives rather than peoples.
  • Buchanan is in sympathy with this assumption. But it is not only this, but also that individuals move across borders, individuals are independent from particular societies.
  • What does Rawls mean by ‘peoples’? Peoples vs states
    • Peoples are groups united by common sympathies
    • Interchanges ‘societies’ with ‘peoples’
    • Peoples are groups with their own states
    • Peoples do not have the powers of sovereignty that states have
    • States do not have the moral character of peoples
    • Peoples’ political organization constitutes some sort of statehood
    • Principles in Rawls’ Law of Peoples are interstate/inter’nation’al
  • Ambiguity about the word ‘peoples’ – Rawls really means state-organized peoples, although he can be read as very radical, advocating self-determination to thousands of ‘peoples without states’
  • States no longer are thought to have unlimited sovereignty; international law regulates that.
  • Grainting Rawls’ critics the point that individuals should be the parties under the Original Veil, we still do need principels for determining relations between peoples organized into states
  • We can look at Rawls’ principles as rather methods for deriving principles for interstate relations.
  • However, Buchanan argues that having representatives choose principles actually yields results different from what Rawls thinks if you respect two facts:
    • There is a global basic structure
    • Populations of states are not Rawlsian peoples but rather conflicting collections of peoples
      • People only become Rawlsian peoples with massive coercion
  • Rawls’ failure to recognize these two facts leads him to not have any pricniples for international distributive justice
  • Rawls’ laws of people deasl with a ‘vanished Westphalian’ world and has limited utility.

The Westphalian World

  • International legal system growing out of the Peace of Westphalia in 1648
  • Two fundamental features
    • States are conceived of as economically autarkic units. They can provide for their populations’ material needs. States are also distributionally autonomous – they alone determine how wealth is distributed within its borders.
      • Dependency theory: governments have to choose between economic self-sufficiency and distributional autonomy.
        • The Westphalian world was one in which sgtates were both more economically self-sufficient and more distributionally autonomous than they are today.
        • Therefore, the system of resulting relations were more militaristic than economic.
    • States are conceived of as politically homogenous actors without internal political differentiation
      • Westphalia also declared that the head of the state determines the religion of the people – cujus regio, ejus religio
      • Prohibition of intervention against sovereign states
      • Denies existence to disitinct ‘peoples’

The Global Basic Structure

  • Both Westphalian assumptions are essential to Rawls’ moral theory of international law.
  • “Well-ordered socieites can get on with very little; their wealth lies elsewhere; in their political and cultural traditions, …”
  • If there is such a thing as a global basic structure, then being well-governed does not guarantee economic self-sufficiency OR distributional autonomy.
  • In A Theory of Justice, Rawls says the basic structure is: “the way in which the major social institutions distribute fundamental rights and duties and determine the division of advantages from social cooperation.”
    • It is the primary subject of justice because of its distributional effects.
  • There in fact is a global basic structure.
  • One cannot ignore the global basic structure: this is unjustifiable.
  • Rawls perpetuates a (false) thoroughly Westphalian view of international economic relations.
  • The question becomes now – what to choose for the global basic structure?
  • Why should parties who represent peoples choose principels of justice for the global basic structure?
    • Each party wants to ensure that the distributional effects do not impede their society’s capacity t achieve its conception of the good.
    • Will choose principles ensuring fundamental equality
  • Representatives of illiberal societies are as concerned about global distributive justice as liberal societies.
  • Rawls’ argument against including global distributive justice principles confuses egalitarian and inegalitarian principles (within peoples).
  • Rawls seems to propose a charity-like duty rather than a duty of justic eto support less well-off nations.
  • Recognizing the global basics tructure, we have three principles of global distributive justice
    • Principel of global equality of opportunity
    • Principle of democratic particiaption in global governance institutions
    • Principle designed to limit inequalities of wealth among societies
  • Random thought: Rawls and friends (or enemies) are not Hegelian enough. They think that absolute wealth and inequality are independent axes. But perhaps if we think about it through a framework of contingency and necessity, in fact a series of great inequality is needed to even conceive of the difference between absolute and relative disparity.
  • Global governance institutions sare hardly democratic.
    • Abolishing UN security council veto.
  • Will there be a global difference principle? It is less clear. Rawls says that representatives of inegalitarian societies still choose for equality across peoples.
  • Two claims for including principles of global distributive justice
    • there is a global basic structure
    • principles in the domestic basic structures also require principles for the global basic structure
  • Infeasibility objection: there is no global state to enforce changes to the global basic structure. Wrongly assumes that principles of justice have no use prior to actualization.
  • Lack of consensus objection: Sufficient consensus among peoples on the content of the principles is lacking. Not convincing – parties ensure equality of peoples. It is not a question of real-world individuals, but rather parties in an ideal contract

The Reality of Intrastate Political Divisions

  • Rawls does not reference intrastate conflicts.
  • Again, assumes the Westphalian paradigm. – the ‘people’ are unified by a single political culture.
  • How should international legal institutions respond to intrastate conflicts?
  • Why does Rawls not include this?
    1. Ideal theory assumes away divisions in the state
    2. Feels constrained to omit principels infringing on each people to determine its own internal affairs.
  • Populations in states are not Rawlsian peoples.
  • The assumption fo political unity does not even allow for many important issues to be raised.
  • Ideal theory rules out international legal support for various autonomy regimes


  • Rawls does not and can not provide guidance for important issues: global disrributive justice and intrastate conflict.
  • Work is founde don a denial of two basic features of the world
  • A Westphalian nostalgia permeats Rawls’ work.

“Responsibility and Global Justice: A Social Connection Model” – Iris Marion Young (2006)


  • Goal: clarify the status of global (in)justice claims
  • Most work in political philosophy assumes that justice obligations only hold for those in a common political community
  • Argument: Justice obligations between persons come from social processes. Political institutions are built on top of these processes. Therefore, we have global justice obligations due to structural social processes.
  • Second goal: theorize about responsibilities moral agents have to global social processes.
  • “Social connection model” – all agents contributing to structural processes which produce injustice are responsible for working to remedy injustices

Global Connections and Obligations of Justice

  • Widely accepted view – scope of justice obligations is conditioned on membership to a common political community
  • Of course there are some moral obligations to other son the basis of humanity
  • Law of Peoples – broader and thinnert han justice as fairness
  • David Miller: principles of justice have limited scope towaerds the nation-state. Globalizing the world makes state sovereignty more porous
  • Social justice itself may be a historical idea whose time has passed.
  • This position holds that justice obligations presuppose shared political institutions, and as such a “pre-institutional” view of justice is totally incoherent.
  • Cosmopolitan utilitarian – particularist relations are irrelevant to assessing the nature, depth, and scope of obligations
    • Peter Singer, Peter Unger
  • Young is critical of both accounts. There are obligations of justice which require more than common humanity.
    • Yet it is still right that nation-state membership is arbitrary as a source of obligation.
    • There is no sense in which morality should be connected to power.
    • The cosmopolitan-utilitarian view cannot just claim others are human, it needs to ground claims that we have justice to one another.
  • Social connection precedes political institutions ontologically and morally (even if not necessarily historically) – this is what social contract theory tells us.
    • Social connections can exist even if there is no political institution to govern them.
  • Charles Beitz – challenges Rawls’ argument that justice only applies domestically: there isa n international society, even if there is no institution to mark it.
    • Need for political institutions follows from the pre-existing ‘state’ relations
  • Onora O’Neill – An agent’s moral obligation extends to everyone in the frame of the action. Globalized markets and such extend social relations past nation-state borders.
    • We have practical moral commitments to others because our actions assume them as a condition for our own actions
  • Beitz and O’Neill + Pogge describe transnational social structures which give rise to / generate structural injustices.
    • Buchanan: a global basic structure

Example of Global Injustice: Sweatshops

  • Pressed claims on many agents to take responsibilities for sweatshop conditions
  • Anti-sweatshop activists make claims against institutions which purchase clothing in bulk
  • Who is to blame, really? Maybe not consumers but rather the producers.
  • To understand why people seem to agree with the sweatshop activists, we need to conceive of responsibility differently from blame/laibility.
  • Sweatshops violate human rights, irregardless of local culture and industrial development.
  • Workers in sweatshops are coerced
  • Wage levels of workers are far below the legal minimum wage, even if they vary with local cost of living
  • Housework – complicated racial and gendered dimensions
    • Back to the feudal piecemeal system…
  • The global apparel industry diffuses responsibility for sweatshop conditions – it’s all lost in a complex chain of production.
  • Position between employee and employer is blurred. – ‘self-employment’, uberization, entrepreneurship of hte self
  • Earn <6% of the wages from the retail price of the item

Structural INjustice

  • Rawls: the subject of jusitce is the basic structure of society.
  • Structures: confluence of institutional rules and interactive routines
  • Social structures constrain and shape the field of agent actions
  • Peter Blau: a social structure is a space of differentiated social positions that a population is distributed along.
  • Spatial metaphor for understanding what a ‘structure’ is – Pierre Bourdieu
  • However, we should not reify the metaphor of the structure by thinking of it as separate from agents or merely being the alnd that they walk on. Social structure is not a state but a process.
    • Anthony Giddens: ‘structuration’
  • The apparel industry presumes certain fashion knowledge – people act with rules and expectations, we ‘need’ new clothes, we need to follow trends, we need to have different seasons
    • Fashion behaves as if it were a “natural force”
  • Social structure: includes the conditions under which actors act – a collective outcome of action.
    • Sartre: practico-inert
  • People act under socio-historical conditions, the products of previous actions
  • A social structure is the horizon of consequences that collective interactions in a social sphere have – Sartre, “counter-finalities”
  • Structural injustice: social processes put large cateogries of people under systematic threat of domination
    • A moral wrong distinct from an individualized ethical wrong
    • All persons are involved in that they are part of the process.
  • Injustice is a specific systemic way that the social structure constrains and enables individuals’ opportunities
  • Suffering is not merely misofrtune but socially caused – everyone involved in producing these structures is implicated.
    • How do we conceptualize responsibility for structural injustice?
  • Conventional models of responsibility aren’t helpful here.

Two Models of Responsibility: Liability and Social Connection

  • Individuals often make claims that people in free & affluent countries have a responsibility to harm people in the less developed world
  • To do so rigorously, we need to break with the liability model of responsibility
  • The liability model
    • Legal reasoning – how to establish guilt or fault for a harm? Responsibility is assigned to agents who are causally connected to the outcomes
    • Agents can be collective, but are treated as a single agent
    • Strict liability model – an agent is liable for harm even if they did not intend or were unable to control the outcome
    • Liability model applies to human rights violations in sweatshops
    • However, workers stand within a system – they may appeal to factors outside their control, i.e. appealing to “the system is too big”
    • Can the states in which sweatshops operate be blamed for allowing them to exist? Many agencies which are supposed to enforce labor regulations are corrupt
    • etc. etc. it’s blame all the way down.
    • The liability model of responsibility is necessary for the legal system.
  • The social connection model of responsibility does not reject the liability model; rather, it works with it. Although for issues of social justice which is structural, the liability model does not work well enough. It requires direct interaction between wrongdoer and wronged party.

  • The social connection model
    • Individuals have responsibilities via the positions they occupy – we have responsibilities as citizens, teachers, employees, etc.
    • Here, responsibility means the agent carries out activities in a morally appropriate way and aims at certain outcomes.
    • it is from here that we can base a conception of a social connection model.
    • Individuals bear responsibility for structural unjustice because they contribute by their actions to processes which produce unjust outcomes.
    • Responsibilities stem from belonging together in an interdpeendent process of cooperation and competittion
    • Responsibility is not derived from passively living under a common institution, but from participation in institutional processes which produce structural injustice.
  • Five main features of the social connection model of responsibility:
    1. Not isolating. Liability tries to isolate those who are responsible. But how to account for harms resulting from participation of many? We are not exempt as consumers.
      • Potential issue: Maybe there is still asort of causal model going on here. Does this solve any problems really at all? Think back to common ethical issues, John and the chemicals factory or whatever.
    2. Judging background conditions. We usually assume a morally acceptable background. Liability considers harm as discrete and bounded. Punishment attempts to retore normality, or the *normal whole. on the other han,d the social connection model brings into question whether assumed background conditions are even normal to begin with. We contribute to production and reproduction of structural injustice. We need to reflect and be more explicit about what kind of behavior we are in the process of doing and replicating.
      • True, but speaking to the choir? What are we to do about this?
    3. More forward-looking than backwards-looking. The liability model is usually backwards-looking, but the social connection model is forwards-looking. Considers factors of deterrence, etc. We are concerned with ongoing processes.
    4. Shared responsibility. shared vs collective responsibiility. Larry May: collective responsibility treats the aggregate as responsible while noneo of the individuals are themselves responsible. In shared responsibility, each individual is personally responsible for outcomes in a partial way.
      • Possible critique: It’s still unclear what is exactly meant by “responsibility”, because we’ve defined it in this particular shared way, which is great, but then what sort of moral weight does “responsibility” have? This needs to be clarified.
    5. Dischard only through collective action. Forward-looking responsibility can only be discharged by joining others in collective action. Many agents contribute to unjust outcomes by contributing their actions to particular institutions. Therefore, responsibility must mean political responsibility. Even those who are victims of harm or injustice share responsibility under this social connection model. Including workers insweatshop models. They share responsibility for combatting sweatshop conditions. This does not mean that all who share responsibility have an equal responsibility.
      • Question – How does this compare with Stokely Carmichael’s critique, Fanon’s critique from decolonial theory? etc.

Parameters of Reasoning

  • Social connection model of responsibility – corresponds with the intuition that those who participate in unjust-producing institutions share responsibility
  • How should we reasona bout the best ways to use our limited resources and such?
  • Maybe the social connection model raises too many questions. etc. etc. This requires more work
  • Some: responsibility names a form of obligation distinct from duty. Duty: specifies a rule of action. Responsibility: more open with regards to what can be carried out.
  • Someone with responsibilities must attend to outcomes, whereas duties are somewhat less concerned about the consequences themselves.
  • We can still criticize how agents go about achieving ends, though.
  • The social connection model does not give us imperatives; it offers us parameters for reasoning: power, privilege, interest, collective ability.
  • Power: actual influence over outcomes.
  • Privilege: people acquire privilege by virtue of structures – structural injustices don’t only produce victims.
  • Interest: people have divergent interests and claims to structures which produce injustice. Victims often have a greater interest in structural transformation.
  • Collective ability: bargaining power, etc.


  • Giving more concreteness to the relations between social injustices and responsibilities
  • Important element in developing a theory of global justice
  • Recognizing and highlighting social and economic (rather than merely political) processes

“Associative Duties, Global Justice, and the Colonies” – Ypi, Goodin, Barry (2009)

  • Most countries have colonial relations with one another. What implications do these facts have for the scope of global distributive justice?
  • Colonialism poses a historical problem for justice – what rights and duties do we have?
  • Associative rellations account: distributive jusitce is owed only to those with political association – narrowed to compatriots alone.

Associative Duties vs Global Justice

  • Cosmpolitans argue that principles should apply identically to everyone worldwide.
  • Anti-cosmopolitans argue that principles of justice apply strictly among co-inhabitants of a political state, even though we do have duties of humanity
  • Middle position: minimalist/suffientarian principles apply globally, and egalitarian principles apply domestically
  • Opposition to cosmopolitanism of distributive justice: argument from associative duties. Everyone has certain general duties, and special duties are owed to some, including associative duties – people who are members of an association, which justify different principles of justice.
    • Cooperation account: associative duties are rooted in members of an association cooperating in a joint venture
    • Coercion: associative duties stem as sort of a ‘fair deal’ for bieng subject to coercion under an authority.
  • Traditionally, the focus is on cooperation, e.g. the Rawlsian view. Countryfolk-ties have been likened to family ties.
    • Nagel, associative duties as a barrier to global justice
  • Coercion account: Blake and friends,coercion threatens liberal autonomy, so citizens justify use of force only if it is paired with institutional concern for relative deprivation among associates.
  • Both accounts argue that a concern for distributive jusitce is only relevant within a domestic political state.
  • Equality is said to become only relevantg in the context of certain forms of coercion.
  • Draw sharp differences between the domestic and the international case.
  • These do not persuade the authors. Onward!

Colonial Rule: The Coercion Account

  • Colonial relations are not just about looking at individual analogues of domestic political rule: these are relations which actually appear very much like rules between members of the same state, bound by the same legal web.
    • This is actually a historically tenuous point. Personal note
    • inferior legislatures (Burke) are separate, no?
  • Colonial contradiction of the Mother is legally null
  • Certainly there is coercive power present.
  • So certainly people int he Mother Country and its colonies have associative duties towards one another.
    • is this view in conflict with the Westphalian one? Is it ‘post-Westphalian Westphalianism’?
  • Certainly, members of the colonized and colonizer nations are not subject to the same coercive practices.
    • Yet this does not demarcate a separate state by itself.
    • Consider racism in the American south.
    • Blacks and Whites were subject under the same coercive power – itw as just a racist coercive power.
  • Everyone under the coercive rule is part of the sovereignty.
  • Personal note – this works well with the coercive model, the collaborative model is more tenuous, it seems.
  • Personal note – maybe it is problematic that we are trying to demarcate economic and political coercion so easily. And maybe this works in favor of colonized people but then not to others? Does it defend those that have not been coolonized? Although the question is to be asked too if all economic disparities are the result of colonization in one way or another.
  • Indigenous political institutions can emerge autonomously within a community
  • Colonization is wrong because it violates peoples’ right to self-determination.
    • How can this be redressed?
  • Robust distributive justice applies to those bound by the same colonial association.
    • Question – what does this mean for poor folks in the colonizing country? Are they differentiated from the poor in the colonized or have they been rendered similar?
    • Coercive alien rule is wrong by denying self-determination. But it is also this which gives rise to duties of justice.
    • The coercion account is right when applied to consider colonial effects.

Coercion and Indirect Colonial Rule

  • Being subject to coercion is sufficient to give rise to associative duties.
  • What does ‘same’ coercive authority mean?
  • ‘Direct Rule’ model: law of the colony directly determined by legislative, executive, etc. institutions of the Mother Country
    • e.g. british rule over Burma, parts of India
    • The French
    • Portuguese rule in Brazil
  • Indirect rule model: control over most matters is deligated to indigenous officials with native institutions under them.
    • Ultimate authority still rests with the colonial master
  • Does this difference between indirect and direct rule make any moral difference?
    • Authors suggest that it seems not.
    • Certainly the absolute monarch’s subjects are pervasively impacted by the regime’s coercive power.
    • Personal note – this begs the question of economic vs political exploitation.
  • Maybe some colonies rule ‘in name only’, but this is a rare occurrence.
  • Taxation, punishment, etc. – all examples of coercion even in ‘indirect’ cases.
  • Puppet regimes: we install a puppet regime and leave, is this coercion? People are not formally under the coercive power of our state, but there is a local coercive power which is too our own.
  • We do not consciouosly directly exercise coercive power, but we are stiil “coauthors of the edict”. What do you mean by “we” here? Is there an internal colonizer/colinized relationship?
  • Other forms of coercion are relevant here too.
  • We have committed a political relevant moral wrong for installing a puppet state.
  • Critics of decolonization: a transfer of power to indigenous elites, maintaining colonial economic relationships. And this was likely to aim of the British Colonial office.

Colonial Rule: The Cooperation Account

  • Focused on associative duties from under the coercion account, and it has been quite fruitful.
  • Maybe more controversial to use the cooperation account, although arguably the results are the same.
  • Colonial rule is different from occupation by foreign forces. But the dream is for colonial subjects to internalize the rules and not consider themselves as being coerced by the state solely as the absis for their actions. This is some sort of cooperation and triggers associative duties under the Cooperation Account.
  • Colonial systems are often comprehensive and self-contained. The rules are generally known and complied with.
    • Max Weber has a problem maybe.
  • Inhabitants of colonies and their masters do not merely engage in economic relationships, but develop reciropocal virtue relations.
    • Britain and India during WWII
    • This sort of relationship is different from the autarkic societies ones in Blake
  • members create public goods for and with one another to realize life plans
  • Maybe colonies fall out of the scope of distributive justice because the terms of cooperation must be fair. But this is dubious, because surely this is incorrect.

Severing Colonial Ties, Shedding Associative Duties

  • Regardless of coercion or cooperation accounts, political association constittued by colonial rule is similar to the political institution membership which grounds associative duties.
  • Associative duties are not only owed to people currently in association, but also former associations.
  • This ties in colonization and decolonization.
  • What conditions can one group secede from a political institution? New question: Can associative duties be shared even when secession occurs?
  • Colonizers might try to sever theri political obligations by severing political ties.
  • Associative duties of justice may linger:
    1. Colonizer’s duty to rectify harm involved in violating right to self-determination
    2. Duty to rectify failure to meet associatively grounded duties of justice
    3. Duty to fairly share benefits of a cooperative good which were not fairly distributed
  • If debt has not been paid during colonial rule, it is not automatically cancelled by ending that colonial rule.
  • People linked through associative colonial buonds woe duties of robust distributive justice to one another.
  • Personal note – to me this begs the question of whether one is still in the framework of associative duties or if we have somehow transcended that into some sort of social connection model of justice.
  • Specifying “fair terms of divorce”. This is a problem, because it forces you to recognize some sort of a higher authority. Maybe? Maybe all divorce must be just (i.e. if you hav enot fulfilled fair terms of divorce you have not truly divorced.)
  • Counterfactuals do not cancel out claims of justice
  • Obligations to ex-partner cannot be reduced to general obligations owed to anyone. Special distributive obligations continue to apply.
  • Interesting implications for slavery reparations.
  • Personal note – maybe the issue is the cudgeling of indiviudals into separate states, ‘colonized’ and ‘colonizer’
  • There may be ongoing cooperative projects, e.g. children in the divorce analogy.
    • PN: But does that give rise to associative duties? How much are associative duties getting diluted?
  • General question: How much does justice as a concept fetishize the positive/negative distinction of actions? Maybe I want to take positive action but because I am at risk of justice liabilities, I instead do nothing and favor obligations of humanity.
  • Standard self-determination view of decolonization
  • Consent under duress does not morally count (??)
  • Colonizers are founders of the colonized as an independent state. Coercive capacity of the colonizing state is self-effacing.
  • Colonizers play the main role in the political separation.
  • The removal of coercive capacity might itself be a coercive act.
    • Maybe there is no way in which the colonial state does not bear upon the colonized or post-colonized state.
  • Can colonial debts ever be fully paid back?

Extending Robust Distribtuvie Justice to All Fellow Associates

  • It is tempting to think of colonialism as a wrong done by the colonizer to the colonized. But there are a set of additional colonial duties.
  • Associative duties extend to everyone linked in a political association – person to person.
  • Rich individuals in the colonies end up owing assocaitive duties to poor people in other colonies or even the mother country.
  • Associative duties: if people really find them so compelling, then they must accept that special associative dutiex extend very far
  • Not quite at the global scope of the cosmopolitans, but extends well beyond Milleresque anticosmopolitan particularists.

“Relational Equality and Immigration” – Daniel Sharp (2009)

  • Previously, people have offered consequentialist distributive accounts against closed borders / restrictive immigration
  • Sharp is going to provide a relational account – there is a power imbalance which is objectionable.


  • Wealthy states do a lot to keep individuals out.
  • Two challenges to this:
    • All persons have fundamental interests to move across borders, which ground a right to immigrate.