Cooperation, Pervasive Impact, and Coercion : On the Scope (not Site) of Distributive Justice

ABIZADEH, ARASH: art90], (2007), «~Cooperation, Pervasive Impact, and Coercion : On the Scope (not Site) of Distributive Justice~» Philosophy & Public Affairs, 35.4 : 318-358.

Résumé

It is widely known that in A Theory of Justice Rawls restricted the scope of distributive justice to the domestic context of a single polity. This restriction implies that citizens have responsibilities of distributive justice to each other that they do not have to foreigners. Rawls’s readers widely thought that he had motivated this anticosmopolitan restriction, despite his commitment to the equal moral worth of all, on the basis of two assumptions. First, he assumed that principles of distributive justice come into play only within the context of society’s “basic structure.” Only persons with a shared basic structure have claims upon and responsibilities to each other arising from considerations of distributive justice. Second, Rawls famously assumed that there is no global basic structure, that the societies whose basic structure is the subject of justice are “more or less self-sufficient associations]” whose boundaries correspond to those of contemporary polities. This was the argument that Rawls’s readers thought was implicitly backing the restriction of justice’s scope in his Theory of Justice: since “the primary subject of justice is the basic structure of society,” and since there is no global basic structure, the scope of justice is domestic.

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