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Knight, C. (2008)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Languages: English
Types: Article
Subjects: BJ, JC
A large proportion of humankind today lives in avoidable poverty. This article examines whether affluent individuals and governments have moral duties to change this situation. It is maintained that an alternative to the familiar accounts of transdomestic distributive justice and personal ethics put forward by writers such as Peter Singer, John Rawls, and Thomas Pogge is required, since each of these accounts fails to reflect the full range of relevant considerations. A better account would give some weight to overall utility, the condition of the worst off, and individual responsibility. This approach provides robust support to global poverty alleviation.
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    • 6 Jeremy Bentham, An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, ed. J. H. Burns and H. L. A. Hart (London: Athlone, 1970), ch. I, sec. 2, p. 12.
    • 7 Jeremy Bentham, The Works of Jeremy Bentham, ed. John Bowring (Edinburgh: Tait, 1843), vol. II, p. 537; see also David Lyons, In the Interest of the Governed (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1973), pp. 102-5.
    • 8 Peter Singer, 'Famine, Affluence, and Morality', Philosophy and Public Affairs, 1 (1972), pp. 229-43; see also Singer, Practical Ethics, 2nd edn (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), ch. 8.
    • 9 Singer, 'Famine, Affluence, and Morality', p. 231, my emphasis.
    • 10 See Richard J. Arneson, 'Do Patriotic Ties Limit Global Justice Duties?', Journal of Ethics, 9 (2005), pp. 127-50.
    • 14 Singer himself would maybe be uncomfortable with describing this as a concern of justice, and Brian Barry has suggested that his utilitarianism is really concerned with the contrasting notion of 'humanity'. See Singer, Practical Ethics, pp. 14-15; Barry, 'Humanity and Justice in Global Perspective', in J. Roland Pennock and John W. Chapman (eds), Nomos XXIV: Ethics, Economics, and the Law (New York: New York University Press, 1982). But others make it clear that utilitarianism gives a central role to distributive justice. See, for instance J. S. Mill, Utilitarianism in his On Liberty and Other Essays, ed. John Gray (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991), ch. V; R. M. Hare, Moral Thinking (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981), ch. 9; P. J. Kelly, Utilitarianism and Distributive Justice (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990).
    • 15 John Rawls, A Theory of Justice (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1971); references to revised edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999).
    • 29 Rawls' (implicit) view that there is no such international co-operation is supported in Barry, 'Humanity and Justice in Global Perspective', pp. 232-3.
    • 30 Charles Beitz, Political Theory and International Relations (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1979).
    • 31 See Rawls, A Theory of Justice, pp. 233-4; Thomas Pogge, Realizing Rawls (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1989), p. 247. For the more general claim that the usual justifications of distributive justice principles imply cosmopolitan versions of such principles, see Caney, Justice Beyond Borders, ch. 4.
    • 46 Thomas Pogge, 'Severe Poverty as a Violation of Negative Duty', Ethics and International Affairs, 19 (2005), pp. 55-83, pp. 65-9.
    • 47 See Rowan Cruft, 'Human Rights and Positive Duties', Ethics and International Affairs, 19 (2005), pp. 29-37.
    • 48 Pogge, World Poverty and Human Rights, p. 197, original emphasis.
    • 49 Richard J. Arneson, 'Equality and Equal Opportunity for Welfare', Philosophical Studies, 56 (1989), pp. 77-93; G. A. Cohen, 'On the Currency of Egalitarian Justice', Ethics, 99 (1989), pp. 906-44; Ronald Dworkin, Sovereign Virtue (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000), ch. 2.
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