Saturday, September 22, 2007


Global justice is an issue in political philosophy arising from the concern that "we do not live in a just world." Many people are extremely poor, while others are extremely rich. Many live under tyrannical regimes. Many are vulnerable to violence, disease, and starvation. Many die prematurely. How should we understand and respond to these facts? What do the inhabitants of the world owe one another? What institutions and what ethical standards should we recognise and apply throughout the world?
Three central concerns — the scope of justice, distributive justice, and institutions — structure the debate about global justice. The main positions in that debate — realism, particularism, nationalism, the society of states tradition, and cosmopolitanism — can be distinguished by their various approaches to these questions.

Context
Three related questions, concerning the scope of justice, justice in the distribution of wealth and other goods, and the institutions responsible for justice, are central to the problem of global justice.

Central questions
Are there, as the moral universalist argues, objective ethical standards that apply to all humans regardless of culture, race, gender, religion, nationality or other distinguishing features? Or do ethical standards only apply within such limited contexts as cultures, nations, communities, or voluntary associations?
Further information: Moral universalism, Moral relativism

Scope
1.1 billion people — 18% of humanity — live below the World Bank's $2/day poverty line. Is this distribution of wealth and other goods just? What is the root cause of poverty, and are there systemic injustices in the world economy? Do the rich have an obligation to help the poor, or is aid a matter of charity, and therefore admirable but not morally required? If the poor should be helped, how much help is required — just enough that they can meet their basic needs, enough that they can flourish as humans, or until they are no longer worse off than the rich?
Further information: Distributive justice, Poverty, Social Justice, International inequality

Distributive justice
What institutionsstates, communes, federal entities, global financial institutions like the World Bank, international NGOs, multinational corporations, international courts, a world state – would best achieve the ideal of global justice? How might they gain our support, and whose responsibility is it to create and sustain such institutions? How free should movement between the jurisdictions of differerent territorial entities be?
Further information: Immigration, Freedom of movement

Institutions
Five main positions — realism, particularism, nationalism, the society of states tradition, and cosmopolitanism (in two forms) — have been taken by contributors to the global justice debate.

Global justice Main positions

Main article: Realism in international relations Realism
Particularists, such as Michael Walzer and James Tully, argue that ethical standards arise out of shared meanings and practices, which are created and sustained by discrete cultures or societies. Moral and social criticism is possible within the boundaries of such groups, but not across them. If a society is egalitarian, for instance, its citizens can be morally wrong, and can meaningfully criticise each other, if they do not live up to their own egalitarian ideals; but they cannot meaningfully criticise another, caste-based society in the name of those ideals. "A given society is just if its substantive life is lived in a certain way — that is, in a way faithful to the shared understandings of [its] members." It is unjust if not. Each society has its own, different standards, and only those inside it are bound by those standards and can properly criticise themselves. So, moral universalism is false, because objective ethical standards vary between cultures or societies. We should not apply the same criteria of distributive justice to strangers as we would to compatriots. And nation-states which express their peoples' shared and distinctive ethical understandings are the proper institutions to enable local and different justices.
Further information: Communitarianism, Cultural relativism, Multiculturalism

Particularism

Main article: Nationalism Nationalism
In the society of states tradition, states are seen as individual entities which can mutually agree on common interests and rules of interaction, including moral rules, in much the same way as human individuals can. Often, this idea of agreement between peers is formalised by a social contract argument.
One prominent exemplar of the tradition is John Rawls. In The Law of Peoples, Rawls extends the method of his A Theory of Justice to the question of global justice. His argument is that we can justify a global regime by showing that it would be chosen by representatives of Peoples in an imagined original position, which prevents them knowing which particular People they represent. This decision-in-ignorance models fairness because it excludes selfish bias. When Rawls applied this method in the case of domestic justice, with parties in the original position representing individual members of a single society, he argued that it supported a redistributive, egalitarian liberal politics. In contrast, Rawls argues that when his method is applied to global justice, it supports a quite traditional, Kantian international ethics: duties of states to obey treaties and strict limits on warmaking, but no global repossession of private property. So, different justices apply to the domestic and international cases. Even if justice requires egalitarianism within states, it does not do so between them. And a system of cooperating but independent states is the just global institutional arrangement. Rawls describes this ideal as a 'realistic utopia'. Apart from Rawls, other notable exponents of this position include Hedley Bull.
Further information: The Law of Peoples, Social contract

Society of states
Cosmopolitans argue that some form of moral universalism is true, and therefore that all humans, and not merely compatriots or fellow-citizens, fall within the scope of justice. Their arguments typically appeal to consistency, as follows:
Cosmopolitans differ, however, over which shared human characteristics are morally significant.
Consequentialist cosmopolitans, amongst whom Peter Singer is prominent, argue that the proper standard of moral judgement for actions, practices or institutions is their consequences, and that the measure of consequences is the welfare of humans (or even of all sentient creatures). The capacity to experience welfare and suffering is therefore the shared basis for moral standing. This means that the fact that some people are suffering terrible deprivations of welfare, caused by poverty, creates a moral demand that anyone who is able to help them do so. Neither the physical distance between the rich and the poor, nor the fact that they are typically citizens of different countries, has any moral relevance. Cosmopolitanism
None of the five main positions described above imply complete satisfaction with the current world order. Realists complain that states which pursue utopian moral visions through intervention and humanitarian aid, instead of minding their own strategic interests, do their subjects harm and destabilise the international system. It might, for instance, require them to transfer most of their wealth to the poor. It might require the building of international institutions able to limit, or even replace, the self-interested action of powerful states and corporations. It might require each of us to do much more than most now do.

Demands of global justice

Anti-globalization
Alter-globalization
Democratic globalization
Democratic World Federalists
Global Justice Movement
Global Justice (organization)
Justice
Just War
Movement of Movements
World Social Forum | European Social Forum

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