A theory of global justice
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A Theory of Global Justice. Göran Collste. 1. Last time…. 1. Rawls A Theory of Justice .. two principles… 2. Political Liberalism ; justice in plural societies…”overlapping consensus”. 3. The Law of Peoples : a theory of global justice…

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A theory of global justice

A Theory of Global Justice

Göran Collste

1 last time

1. Last time…

  • 1. Rawls A Theory of Justice.. two principles…

  • 2. Political Liberalism;

  • justice in plural societies…”overlapping consensus”

A theory of global justice

  • 3. The Law of Peoples: a theory of global justice…

  • or rather a theory of decent international relations…

  • Critique:

  • Rawls does not include the Difference principle

  • because:

  • (1) each society has its own potential to realise justice

  • (2) it is based on individualism – a liberal notion of human nature

  • (3) global inequality is based on people’s own decisions (p 117)

2 today a theory of global justice

2. Today : A theory of global justice

  • Global distributive justice (GDJ)

  • Global rectificatory justice (GRJ)

Global distributive justice gdj

Global Distributive Justice (GDJ)

  • John Locke (1632-1704)

  • The earth ”is given to mankind in common” and eachindividual is by God given equal rights to employ the creation

  • If ”there is enough and as goodleft in common for others” – the proviso

  • Combines GRJ and GDJ

Gdj as a consequence of globalisation

GDJ as a consequence of Globalisation

  • Processes and relations (social, economic, political, cultural etc) that are

  • 1)transcending national borders, that

  • 2)link distant places and peoples and that

  • 3)are spontaneous rather than the result of political decisions.

    “A Global Village” – is it just?

Global distributive justice

Global Distributive justice

  • A Rawlsian (but not Rawls’s) theory of GDJ

  • The hypothetical device of a social contract is then transferred from a nation to the world as a whole. Representatives of the world’s population deliberate on the appropriate principles of justice behind a “veil of ignorance”

Global distributive justice1

Global Distributive Justice

  • 1) A principle of respect for universal basic human rights

  • 2) A principle of democratic legitimacy of global governance, and

  • 3) A principle of equal distribution of social goods unless an unequal distribution is to the benefit of the least advantaged.

A theory of global justice

Gillian Brock: Global Justice. A Cosmopolitan Account

  • Imagine a global conference – UN? “What would be a fair framework for interactions and relations among the world’s inhabitants?”

  • Principles.

  • -satisfaction of basic needs

  • -protection of basic freedoms

  • - fair reciprocity

  • -fair ownership of resources

  • - just distribution: maximizing floor income

A theory of global justice


Arguments against gdj

Arguments against GDJ

  • C1 There are significantdifferencesbetween a nation and the world

  • C2 There is no global basicstructure

  • C3 Global justice is utopian

A theory of global justice

“ We acknowledge the suffering caused by colonialism and affirm that, wherever and whenever it occurred, it must be condemned and its reoccurrence prevented. We further regret that the effects and persistence of these structures and practices have been among the factors contributing to lasting social and economic inequalities in many parts of the world today…call on those who have not yet contributed to restoring the dignity of the victims to find appropriate ways to do so.”

Global justice debate

Global Justice debate

  • Global distributive justice (Beitz, Pogge, Tan, Brock, Caney, Miller, Nagel...)

  • ...justice and the history of global relations?

Grj the history of colonialism

GRJ: The history of Colonialism

  • 15 – 20th century…

  • Flew of resources from colonies to Europe/America

  • raw materials (mines, farms…)

  • people (slaves…)

  • Adjustment of economies and borders…

  • Political and economic structures of dependence

A theory of global justice

The world 1895

  • Image

  • File history

  • File links

Aristotles on rectificatory justice

Aristotles on rectificatory justice

Robert nozick s entitlement theory

Robert Nozick’s entitlement theory

  • A person is entitled to his or her property provided that it is acquired in a just way. Hence, property rights depend on justice in acquisition and justice in transfer

Moral force of global rectificatory justice

Moral force of global rectificatory justice

Assume that I live a life in prosperity and welfare. My next door neighbour, on the other hand, lives in poverty and misery. Let us also assume that many years ago my grandparents stole the land from my present neighbour’s grandparents and our present difference in welfare is related to this historical fact. Then, it seems that my neighbour with good reasons could demand to get a part of my land or income, and thus, that I have some moral obligations to my neighbour. And these obligations are generated by the acts of my forefather.

A case for global rectificatory justice

A case for global rectificatory justice?

  • The argument depends on the following premises:

  • 1) there is a moral obligation to rectify the consequences of wrongful acts,

  • 2) colonialism was on the whole harmful for the colonies,

  • 3) the present unjust global structure was constituted by colonialism, and

  • 4) the obligation of rectificatory justice is trans-generational so long as there are at present identifiable beneficiaries and victims of past injustice

Controversial assumptions

Controversial assumptions

  • First, it assumes that colonialism implied that injustices were made against the colonies.

  • Secondly, it assumes that this historical injustice has left morally relevant traces in the present, i.e. that the present poverty in the developing world is a consequence of colonialism.

  • Third, rectification depend on some intractable counterfactual assumptions - how would the colonies have fared if colonialism never had happened.

Problems with grj

Problems with GRJ

  • Can responsibility be trans-generational?

  • Yes, “Injustice done to individuals who are no longer alive may constrain present distributions only if it has left morally relevant traces in the present” (Elster)

Injustice of colonialism

Injustice of colonialism

  • Slavery

  • Moving Populations movement

  • Economic dominance

  • Famines

  • Degradation

  • Humiliation

  • Dependence

  • Extermination of domestic religion, culture

  • Invasions

  • Human rights violations

  • Genocide

A theory of global justice

Different region’s amount of the world GNP (%):

Why nations fail

Why Nations Fail

  • ”But this chapter has also shown that in several instances the extractive institutions that underpinned the poverty of these nations were imposed, or at the very least further strengthened, by the very same process that fueled European growth…”

  • Acemoglu and Robinson

What is the counterfactual alternative

What is the counterfactual alternative?

  • You walk in the forest and meet a young man who lives there in the wilderness. He is poor and barely survives. You tell him that he can work for you. You employ him but pay a meager wage and force him to work at least 12 hours a day under poor conditions. After having worked for you for almost all his life, when he gets old he is able to work for himself. You profited from his work but he did not get any education, and health care just to keep him alive when working for you. As a consequence, his life as a free person is miserable. When he blames you that you did not help to prepare him for this situation and demand that you compensate him, you respond that he anyway got a better life working for you than he would have had in the wilderness. Thus, there is no reason for blame or compensation. Is your response justified?

Grj and forgiveness

GRJ and Forgiveness

  • “Forgive me for X!”

  • “Yes, I forgive you for X ”

  • Tacit conditions:

  • (1) You regret X,

  • (2) You will not continue doing X

  • (3) If possible, you will compensate for X

Grj and reconciliation

GRJ and Reconciliation

  • There is a conflict between A and B

  • A and B have the intentions to overcome the conflict

  • A and B have similar views of the reasons behind the conflict

  • When the conflict is asymmetrical (A is dominant and B is inferior) – the goal is to achieve equality.

  • How is reconciliation for colonialism done?

Rectification before reconciliation

Rectification before reconciliation

  • Necessary for both forgiveness and reconciliation;

  • Symbolic: “I apologize!”

  • Material: A will transfer resources to B (in proportion to past wrongs?)

  • Forward-looking: A will aid B to prosper in the future (aid, trade, debts, power...)

  • “The direct concern of restorative justice is the moral quality of future relations between those who have done, allowed, or benefited from wrong and those harmed, deprived, or insulted by it.” Margret Walker

A theory of global justice

  • What – if anything – are the practical implications of a theory of global rectificatory justice? Does it add anything substantial to a theory of global distributive justice?

  • Added motives: a debt to pay



  • Of Global Rectificatory Justice?

  • Of Global Distributive Justice?

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