Does Global Egalitarianism Provide an Impractical and Unattractive Ideal of Justice?

International Affairs 84 (5):1025-1039 (2008)
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Abstract

In his important new book National responsibility and global justice, David Miller presents a systematic challenge to existing theories of global justice. In particular, he argues that cosmopolitan egalitarianism must be rejected. Such views, Miller maintains, would place unacceptable burdens on the most productive political communities, undermine national self-determination, and disincentivize political communities from taking responsibility for their fate. They are also impracticable and quite unrealistic, at least under present conditions. Miller offers an alternative account that conceives global justice in terms of a minimum set of basic rights that belong to human beings everywhere. Primary responsibility for securing such rights for an individual lies with his or her state, but in so far as these rights go unprotected, responsibilities for fulfilling them may fall on outsiders. While less ambitious that cosmopolitan egalitarian justice, Miller argues that his own view would nevertheless enable us to articulate what is most morally objectionable about our current world. In this article it is argued that none of Miller's critiques of cosmopolitan egalitarianism is effective, and that while certainly preferable to the status quo, a world governed by Miller's principles is not an attractive ideal.

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Pablo Gilabert
Concordia University

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