Distributive Justice

Allen Buchanan

in Justice, Legitimacy, and Self-Determination

Published in print August 2003 | ISBN: 9780198295358
Published online April 2004 | e-ISBN: 9780191600982 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Political Theory

 Distributive Justice

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This chapter grapples with the most controversial topic in the discourse of human rights: distributive justice. The chief questions to be addressed are (1) whether a justice‐based international legal order should include rights of distributive justice (sometimes called social and economic rights) for individuals that exceed the right to the means of subsistence that is already widely recognized in international and regional human rights instruments, and (2) whether international law should recognize not only individuals but collectivities such as states or “peoples” or nations as having rights of distributive justice. To situate these questions, the chapter begins by considering alternative explanations for widespread skepticism about the possibility that distributive justice can have a significant place in the international legal order. The remaining sections of the chapter discuss: I. The Place of Distributive Justice in International Law; II. Reasons for Rejecting a Prominent Role for Distributive Justice in International Law Today; III. Deep Distributive Pluralism; IV. Societal Distributive Autonomy; and V. Institutional Capacity and Lack of Political Will.

Keywords: Distributive Autonomy; distributive justice; Distributive Pluralism; economic rights; human rights; human rights instruments; Institutional Capacity; international law; international legal order; justice; Pluralism; Political Will; rejection of distributive justice; social rights

Chapter.  14883 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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