, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 193-202
Date: 29 Dec 2010

Finding its Way between Realism and Utopia: Global Justice in Theory and Practice

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We would all be living in a much better place if real world justice followed the progress of academic debates on the subject. More than 20 years ago we were at the point of asking whether people outside the state were owed anything at all.

For some early pioneering discussions, see, for example, Beitz (1979), Singer (1972), Shue (1980).

Then everyone became convinced of that. Ten years ago academics around the world were wondering whether obligations to outsiders are best understood as humanitarian duties of assistance or rather as duties of cosmopolitan justice.

See the discussions initiated by Rawls (1999).

Then even sceptics succumbed to the charm of human-rights discourse and conceded that, of course, they might also be considered ‘cosmopolitan’, after a fashion.

See for example Miller (2007).

Now we are at the point of arguing that surely, even if justice does have global scope, the specific principles of distributive justice differ according to the context within which the need for ...