National and Statist Responsibility

Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, Forthcoming

24 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2008 Last revised: 7 Apr 2011

See all articles by Jacob T. Levy

Jacob T. Levy

McGill University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: April 16, 2008


In this article, part of a symposium on David Miller's Global Justice and National Responsibility, I first focus on an area of disagreement: Miller's attempt to attribute to nations responsibility that I think ought to be generally attributed to states. I then sketch a theory that disregards nations more or less completely, and yet issues in a two-level theory like Miller's, sanctioning important differences between intrastate and interstate distribution. It is only like Miller's, because the distinction between states and nations is one with a very real difference indeed. Moreover, I think that Miller aims to build up the moral and historical prestige of the nation-state to make it a viable competitor with the claims of universal morality, whereas I will engage in a kind of deflation that teaches us not to expect contingent forms of political organization to instantiate great moral truths. But this results in an account that is perhaps more like his than either is like cosmopolitanism visions, whether egalitarian or libertarian.

Keywords: nationalism, global justice, state system, national responsibility

Suggested Citation

Levy, Jacob T., National and Statist Responsibility (April 16, 2008). Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN:

Jacob T. Levy (Contact Author)

McGill University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Montreal, Quebec H3A 1G5

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