The Feasible Alternatives Thesis: Kicking away the livelihoods of the global poor

Politics, Philosophy and Economics 11 (1):97-119 (2012)
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Abstract

Many assert that affluent countries have contributed in the past to poverty in developing countries through wars of aggression and conquest, colonialism and its legacies, the imposition of puppet leaders, and support for brutal dictators and venal elites. Thomas Pogge has recently argued that there is an additional and, arguably, even more consequential way in which the affluent continue to contribute to poverty in the developing world. He argues that when people cooperate in instituting and upholding institutional arrangements that foreseeably result in more severe or more widespread poverty or human rights deficits than would foreseeably result under feasible alternative arrangements, they are contributors to these harms. Because of this, he argues, they have stringent, contribution-based (or negative) duties to address this poverty. We will call this the ‘Feasible Alternatives Thesis' (FAT), and our aim in this article is to examine it critically

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Christian Barry
Australian National University

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