How Demanding Is the Duty of Assistance?
Among Anglo-American philosophers, contemporary debates about global economic justice have often focused upon John Rawls’s Law of Peoples. While critics and advocates of this work disagree about its merits, there is wide agreement that, if today’s wealthiest societies acted in accordance with Rawls’s Duty of Assistance, there would be far less global poverty. I am skeptical of this claim. On my view, the Duty of Assistance is unlikely to require the kinds and amounts of assistance that would be sufficient to eradicate much global poverty. This is because the DA cannot require societies to rapidly or radically change their ways life, and because the kinds and amounts of assistance that are most likely to eradicate global poverty would cause rapid and radical changes to the ways of life of the societies that undertook them.