Global Moral Egalitarianism and Global Distributive Egalitarianism

| September 2015
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How can one consistently endorse global moral egalitarianism (the view that all human beings are owed equal respect and concern by everyone) and fail to also endorse global distributive egalitarianism (the view that each human being’s access to important material advantages matters equally)? On the face of it, if we do not endorse the latter, we contradict our commitment to the former, thinking that the access to economic opportunities for some humans is more important than it is for others. In this essay I discuss a significant attempt to show that this puzzling position is tenable. In his impressive book Justice and Foreign Policy, Michael Blake accepts global moral egalitarianism, but argues that it yields a principle of global distribution that is weaker than egalitarianism. This is a form of global distributive sufficientarianism, according to which global distributive justice demands that every human being have enough to meet a certain threshold of material goods necessary for leading an autonomous life. Distributive equality, on this view, is only demanded for domestic contexts, in which people are co-members of political communities subject to the coercion of the same state. I will argue that this limited view of global distributive justice is mistaken, and that we should instead embrace global distributive egalitarianism. If we are to incrementally shape the future of global politics in a way that fully treats all human beings as equals, global distributive egalitarianism is the appropriate principled view, even though its complete implementation may be unrealistic in the near future.

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Category: Book Symposium: Justice and Foreign Policy, Issue 29.3

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