The Moral Arbitrariness of State Borders: Against Beitz

Contemporary Political Theory 7 (3):259-279 (2008)

Authors
Cara Nine
University College, Cork
Abstract
In this paper, I critically examine an important premise in theories of global distributive justice that, despite its widespread influence, has remained largely unexamined. This is the claim that state borders are morally arbitrary with respect to a just distribution of goods. I examine two common arguments for this claim, the argument that state borders are historically unjust and therefore morally arbitrary; and the argument first made by Charles Beitz that the conditions of a fair, hypothetical social contract would not include knowledge of one's location with respect to the distribution of natural resources between state borders. I argue that there are good reasons to reject both arguments. Beitz's immense contribution to international justice can be gauged by the fact that it is difficult to find a contemporary work on global justice that does not reference his arguments in Political Theory and International Relations . Although some authors find Beitz's cosmopolitan theory objectionable, no author has, to my knowledge, criticized Beitz's pivotal arguments that our placement in the distribution of natural resources is morally arbitrary. The aim of this paper is to do just that
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DOI 10.1057/cpt.2008.18
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References found in this work BETA

Famine, Affluence, and Morality.Peter Singer - 1972 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 1 (3):229-243.
The Law of Peoples.John Rawls - 1999 - Philosophical Quarterly 51 (203):246-253.
Political Theory and International Relations.Charles Beitz - 1979 - Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Property Rights and the Resource Curse.Leif Wenar - 2008 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 36 (1):2–32.
An Egalitarian Law of Peoples.Thomas W. Pogge - 1994 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 23 (3):195-224.

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Citations of this work BETA

Against ‘Permanent Sovereignty’ Over Natural Resources.Chris Armstrong - 2015 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 14 (2):129-151.
Against ‘Permanent Sovereignty’ Over Natural Resources.Chris Armstrong - 2015 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 14 (2):129-151.
The Complex Temporality of Borders: Contingency and Normativity.Adrian Little - 2015 - European Journal of Political Theory 14 (4):429-447.
Targeting Rents: Global Taxes on Natural Resources.Magnus Reitberger - 2017 - European Journal of Political Theory:147488511770713.

View all 7 citations / Add more citations

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