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Global justice, recent work on

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-S103-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 2006
Retrieved March 22, 2018, from

Article Summary

Until recently the prevailing view among many political philosophers was that global justice required that states honour each other’s independence, keep their treaties, and comply with the rules of the just war tradition. This view has long been challenged by realist thinkers, inspired by Machiavelli and Hobbes, who think it idealistic and utopian. The last 35 years have seen a marked increase in the interest on the part of political philosophers in the question of whether there are global principles of justice, and if so, what they are. A number of political philosophers have defended a cosmopolitan conception of global justice. Some, like Peter Singer, have drawn on a consequentialist political morality to defend global principles of justice. Others employ social contract theory to defend universal principles of justice and others ground their commitment to global principles of justice on human rights. These cosmopolitan perspectives have been challenged from a number of perspectives. Some, like John Rawls, argue that a cosmopolitan approach is insufficiently tolerant of non-liberal societies and defend instead a world order built around the ideal of a society of decent states. Others, like David Miller, defend the moral importance of nationality and national self-determination. Underlying these differences are different assumptions about the circumstances under which principles of justice apply. Cosmopolitans tend to think that the global realm is morally analogous to the domestic realm and hence that the principles of justice that apply in the domestic realm (such as, say, utilitarianism or rights) can be exported to the global realm. Their critics tend to think that the global realm is disanalogous to the domestic realm in morally relevant ways; hence they hold either that no principles of justice apply at the global level (realists) or that some do but they are different in nature to those that govern relations between members of the same state or nation (Rawls and nationalists).

Citing this article:
Caney, Simon. Global justice, recent work on, 2006, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-S103-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
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