Thomas Pogge’s ingenious and influential Rawlsian theory of global justice asserts that principles of justice such as the difference principle or, alternatively, a universal criterion of human rights consisting of a subset of the principles of social justice apply to the global basic structure or economic order. Individuals that contribute to upholding the latter and benefit from it are, Pogge emphasizes, jointly responsible for its unjust features, not least for the fact that it, foreseeably and avoidably, affects up to 18 million people per year in such a way that they die. The paper mounts an immanent criticism against Pogge revolving around his notion of collective responsibility. Especially, it argues that people cannot plausibly be held responsible for the distribution of benefits and burdens between individuals at the global level addressed by the kind of principles Pogge invokes. They, and their governments, can, and should, however, be held responsible for the unjust features of the existing law of peoples or states.
Sats, 2012, Vol 13, Issue 2
Thomas Pogge; collective responsibility; principles of justice; principles of the law of peoples