Cooperation, pervasive impact, and coercion: On the scope (not site) of distributive justice

Philosophy and Public Affairs 35 (4):318–358 (2007)
Many anticosmopolitan Rawlsians argue that since the primary subject of justice is society's basic structure, and since there is no global basic structure, the scope of justice is domestic. This paper challenges the anticosmopolitan basic structure argument by distinguishing three interpretations of what Rawls meant by the basic structure and its relation to justice, corresponding to the cooperation (Freeman), pervasive impact (Buchanan), and coercion (Blake, Nagel) theories of distributive justice. On the cooperation theory, it is true that there is no global basic structure, but the basic structure turns out to be only an instrumental condition for realizing justice, and not an existence condition that must be met before demands of justice arise. On the pervasive impact and coercion theories, the basic structure is indeed an existence condition, but there exists a global basic structure. The upshot is that on any plausible interpretation of Rawls's account of the basic structure, Rawlsian justice is global in scope.
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DOI 10.1111/j.1088-4963.2007.00116.x
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