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Public Interest

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Given the presumption that domestic, international, governmental, and nongovernmental organizations must ultimately justify their actions by reference to how they represent the will and impact the welfare of the public at large, clarifying the term “public interest” is essential for both analyzing and promoting global justice. Clearly, the concept is relevant to a range of global issues, from the practices of the International Monetary Fund, to international property rights regimes, to the legitimacy of contested governments. While some use “public goods” interchangeably with “public interest,” the latter seems to not only encompass entitlements and resources, but also intentions and courses of action in a way the former does not. Thus, at least three candidate conceptions are available: utility maximization, express public desire, and various perfectionist theories.

Utility Maximization

Utilitarians conceive of public interest in terms of net utility maximization, attempting to bring...

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Acknowledgments

The author thanks David Reidy for many helpful suggestions on a draft of this entry.

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© 2011 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

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Deaton, M. (2011). Public Interest. In: Chatterjee, D.K. (eds) Encyclopedia of Global Justice. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-9160-5_369

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