Global Justice, Western Perspectives

Gillian Brock

in International Relations

ISBN: 9780199743292
Published online February 2013 | | DOI:
Global Justice, Western Perspectives


For many centuries, matters of war and peace dominated the field of ethical issues in international relations. Though these are still issues of major concern, the field of Global Justice has blossomed in the last two decades, and theorizing over other domains has flourished as well. Events in the real world explain much of this: intensification of the effects of globalization; the dramatic increase in global inequality and poverty; a widespread appreciation of our interdependence and interconnectedness as manifest in the spread of contagious diseases; economic disasters, or catastrophic anthropogenic climate change; and the increased influence of powerful international agencies (such as the World Trade Organization [WTO], United Nations [UN], International Monetary Fund [IMF], and World Bank), with consequent perceived erosion of state sovereignty, are just a few relevant factors that account for the increased interest. The publication of Rawls’s seminal work, Law of Peoples, was especially salient in stimulating theorizing about models of global justice and the principles that should guide international action. A number of central questions became prominent: What principles should guide international action? What are we obligated to do for the global poor? What, indeed, are our responsibilities to all in the global sphere? Can we have world justice without a world state? What authorities are there in the global domain that might be able to enforce and implement global justice? Is it ever permissible to engage in coercive, military action for humanitarian purposes, such as to stop genocide or prevent large-scale violations of human rights? What is terrorism and can it ever be justified? Are there defensible forms of nationalism, what does their value consist in, and under what conditions must claims to national self-determination be given substantial weight? Must nationalism stand in tension with our commitments to global justice? How should we allocate responsibilities for implementing global justice in our world, and how should these apply in particular cases, such as in distributing costs associated with mitigating climate change? What kinds of restrictions on immigration, if any, are just? Are the institutions that dominate the global economic order just and, if not, how should they to be transformed? Can globalization be better harnessed to assist the global poor? How does a globalized, post-Westphalian world order modify the responsibilities we have to one another? Should global institutions be democratically organized? This bibliography concentrates on those issues that have received the most attention in the field so far.

Article.  12458 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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