Ethical Obligations to the Poor in a World of Nation States

  • Paul RonaldsEmail author
Part of the Library of Ethics and Applied Philosophy book series (LOET, volume 23)


Aid activists and International Non-Government Organisations (INGOs) often describe the low levels of official development assistance (ODA) provided by some of the most developed countries like Australia, the United States and Japan as a ‘moral failure’ on the part of their government leaders.1 Such claims make for good sound bites on the six o’clock news but is there really any philosophical basis for them? While the laws and institutions of many of the most developed countries implicitly acknowledge moral obligations between citizens, evidenced by significant internal redistribution of wealth through progressive taxation systems, national health and education schemes and social welfare, the Westphalian System2 has not traditionally imposed on states or their citizens any general responsibility for the welfare of those living in other states.3 This dichotomy between insiders and outsiders permits enormous differences in welfare to exist between citizens of different countries.


Foreign Policy World Trade Organization International Relation Security Council Humanitarian Intervention 
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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.World Vision AustraliaMelbourneAustralia

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