Engineering Global Justice: Achieving Success Through Failure Analysis

Dissertation, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (UM) (2011)
My dissertation develops a novel approach to institutional analysis and begins to apply this approach to debates in the international justice literature. The main innovation of this institutional failure analysis approach is to ground our normative evaluation of institutions on a detailed understanding of the causal processes that generate problematic social outcomes. Chapters 1 and 2 motivate the need for this new approach, showing that philosophers' neglect of causal explanations of global poverty leads extant normative analyses of poverty astray. The upshot is that causal (as opposed to moral) analyses of social outcomes must play a more central role than is typical in philosophers' moral assessment of institutional arrangements. Chapter 3 introduces and outlines the failure analysis framework. Chapters 5 and 6 employ the failure analysis approach to address recent debate concerning an example of severe deprivation caused by institutional failure— the economic stagnation and authoritarian governance associated with natural resource dependence. Chapter 5 articulates a causal explanation of this so-called "resource curse." I claim that the curse occurs when a resource dependent country's domestic institutional structure permits the political leaders to disregard citizens' interests. My argument enumerates the conditions under which state leaders choose to advance citizens' interests. In chapter 6, I show that extant prescriptions to address the resource curse fail to satisfy at least one necessary condition for mitigating the resource curse. In particular, I highlight the importance of providing citizens with credible exit options both as necessary to successfully mitigating the resource curse and as being among the best forms of compensation to curse victims. I then explore the feasibility of various options for helping curse victims avoid absorbing the consequences of their resource-cursed situation. I end by tentatively proposing a strategy for mitigating the resource curse that satisfies the necessary conditions for a successful prescription as identified by the explanation in chapter 5.
Keywords Nonideal theory  Resource curse
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David Wiens (2015). Natural Resources and Government Responsiveness. Politics, Philosophy and Economics 14 (1):84-105.
David Wiens (2012). Prescribing Institutions Without Ideal Theory. Journal of Political Philosophy 20 (1):45-70.
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