Global Justice as Impartiality: Whither Claims to Equal Shares?
INTERNATION JUSTICE, pp. 150-166, Tony Coates, ed., Ashgate, 2000
14 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2011
Date Written: 2000
The paper argues that liberal contractualism can defend the distributive significance of state borders. While unequal shares of certain goods is unreasonable among citizens, some such inequalities are not objectionable in a system of sovereign states. Domestically, a strong case can be made for requiring equal shares of "social primary goods", understood as legal powers within a state characterised by pluralism. However, global regimes need not maximise the share of the globally worst off. Thus a "Global Difference Principle" is not a condition of legitimacy for regimes regulating states in a system of states. The argument shows that claims to equality within liberal contractualism are not robust, as there is no general presumption for equality of condition or of shares of goods. This account thus challenges the received view of liberal contractualism and Justice as Impartiality, which is often thought to justify a general egalitarian baseline for all distributive domains. The paper offers a defence of Rawls' theory of Justice as Fairness, which has been regarded as fundamentally inconsistent in rejecting a Global Difference Principle and in disregarding naturally occurring inequalities. The argument presented defends the consistency of Justice as Fairness, but challenges that theory's relevance for the present world order.
Keywords: liberal contractualism, justice, Rawls, equality
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