Basic positive duties of justice: a contractualist defense

Pablo Gilabert

in From Global Poverty to Global Equality

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199639717
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191739033 | DOI:
Basic positive duties of justice: a contractualist defense

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This chapter develops a contractualist account of basic positive duties of justice fulfilling the global sufficientarian demand to eradicate severe global poverty. It draws on, and further develops, T. M. Scanlon’s theory of moral contractualism (explained in section 2.2). Section 2.3 reconstructs Scanlon’s discussion of assistance, shows that it is insufficient, and explains how it can be elaborated further by shifting from considerations of beneficence to considerations of institutional justice. Section 2.4 discusses some important objections to, and implications of, the contractualist approach developed here, with a special emphasis on nonideal circumstances. Section 2.5 explains how a contractualist framework can recognize the significance of special relationships and responsibilities while showing that their moral legitimacy is conditional upon the satisfaction of certain universal norms. Section 2.6 shows that contractualist reasoning helps to account for how human rights operate at different levels of abstraction and in diverse contexts.

Keywords: moral contractualism; T. M. Scanlon; global poverty; beneficence; positive duties of justice; nonideal circumstances; over-demandingness; human rights; special relationships and responsibilities; universalism

Chapter.  21727 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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