- Posted by Paul Gowder on January 23rd, 2009 filed in ill-formed ideas never to be followed up, sometimes produces political theory
- 30 Comments »
One of the more fashionable areas in the amorphous boundary between political philosophy and political theory right now is global justice… the idea being that our duties of domestic justice and global justice are different, and it’s about time we sorted out the latter. I confess that I find most of this literature utterly boring, because I have very strong cosmopolitan intuitions, and so endless dithering about the global institutional landscape, and conflicts between global and domestic justice, and the duty of assistance, and all that stuff just make me want to point to Peter Singer and say “go listen to that guy some more!” And it’s not that I agree with Singer’s approach (as a non-utilitarian, I’m more of a Beitz kind of a boy), but that the intuitions to which he appeals are so compelling that I don’t understand why those who work on global justice can do so without seriously confronting them instead of appealing to the way Rawls, then Nagel, poisoned the well with all this stuff about institutions and basic structures as the proper subject of justice claims.
But perhaps people would take cosmopolitanism more seriously if it were grounded in something other than Singerian utilitarianism or Beitz and Pogge versions of Rawls that claim there’s a global basic structure (as if that’s what matters).
I don’t think I’m the person to write it, because I have too many other projects on my plate, and also because I don’t know if I swallow virtue ethics (though if anyone wants to co-author something and has a very long timeframe…), but it seems like someone ought to work on grounding cosmopolitanism in a virtue theory.
Would the phronimos prefer his fellow citizens to the starving abroad? I think not.