The duty to eradicate global poverty: Positive or negative?

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 7 (5):537-550 (2005)
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Abstract

In World Poverty and Human Rights, Thomas Pogge argues that the global rich have a duty to eradicate severe poverty in the world. The novelty of Pogges approach is to present this demand as stemming from basic commands which are negative rather than positive in nature: the global rich have an obligation to eradicate the radical poverty of the global poor not because of a norm of beneficence asking them to help those in need when they can at little cost to themselves, but because of their having violated a principle of justice not to unduly harm others by imposing on them a coercive global order that makes their access to the objects of their human right to subsistence insecure. In this paper, I claim that although Pogge is right in arguing that negative duties are crucial in an account of global justice, he is wrong in saying that they are the only ones that are crucial. Harming the global poor by causing their poverty provides a sufficient but not a necessary condition for the global rich to have a duty of justice to assist them. After engaging in a critical analysis of Pogges argument, I conclude by suggesting the need for a robust conception of cosmopolitan solidarity that includes positive duties of assistance which are not mere duties of charity, but enforceable ones of justice.

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Pablo Gilabert
Concordia University

Citations of this work

A Substantivist Construal of Discourse Ethics.Pablo Gilabert - 2005 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 13 (3):405 – 437.
World Poverty, Positive Duties, and the Overdemandingness Objection.Jorn Sonderholm - 2013 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 12 (3):308-327.
Rigorist Cosmopolitanism: A Kantian Alternative to Pogge.Shmuel Nili - 2013 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 12 (3):260-287.

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References found in this work

Anarchy, State, and Utopia.Robert Nozick - 1974 - New York: Basic Books.
World Poverty and Human Rights.Thomas Pogge - 2002 - Ethics and International Affairs 19 (1):1-7.
World Poverty and Human Rights.Thomas Pogge - 2002 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 6 (4):455-458.
Principles of Social Justice.David Miller - 2002 - Political Theory 30 (5):754-759.

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