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Egalitarian challenges to global egalitarianism: a critique


Many political theorists defend the view that egalitarian justice should extend from the domestic to the global arena. Despite its intuitive appeal, this ‘global egalitarianism’ has come under attack from different quarters. In this article, we focus on one particular set of challenges to this view: those advanced by domestic egalitarians. We consider seven types of challenges, each pointing to a specific disanalogy between domestic and global arenas which is said to justify the restriction of egalitarian justice to the former, and argue that none of them – both individually and jointly – offers a conclusive refutation of global egalitarianism.

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1 Recent theoretical defences of this idea are offered by Simon Caney, Justice beyond Borders: A Global Political Theory (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), Darrel Moellendorf, Cosmopolitan Justice (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2002) and Kok-Chor Tan, Justice without Borders: Cosmopolitanism, Nationalism and Patriotism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).

2 This point is forcefully made by Thomas W. Pogge in World Poverty and Human Rights: Cosmopolitan Responsibilities and Reforms (Cambridge: Polity, 2002).

3 See, for example, Iris Marion Young, ‘Responsibility and Global Labour Justice’, Journal of Political Philosophy, 12 (2004), pp. 365–88, and Christian Barry and Sanjay Reddy, International Trade and Labor Standards: A Proposal for Linkage (New York: Columbia University Press, 2008). See also Thomas Nagel's remarks in his ‘The Problem of Global Justice’, Philosophy and Public Affairs, 33 (2005), pp. 113–47, p. 141.

4 Prominent advocates of realism are E.H. Carr, The Twenty Years' Crisis 1919–1939: An Introduction to the Study of International Relations (London: Palgrave, 2001), Hans J. Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1993), and Kenneth Waltz, Theory of International Politics (Boston, Mass: McGraw-Hill, 1979).

5 See, for example, Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State, and Utopia (Oxford: Blackwell, 1974) and Friedrich A. von Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty (London: Routledge, 1990).

6 See Michael Walzer, Thick and Thin: Moral Argument at Home and Abroad (Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 1994).

7 See, for example, Harry Frankfurt, ‘Equality as a Moral Ideal’ in his The Importance of What We Care About (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), Joseph Raz, The Morality of Freedom (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986), pp. 217–44, and Derek Parfit, ‘Equality and Priority’, Ratio, 10 (2007), pp. 202–21. For an illuminating discussion of these issues see Larry Temkin, Inequality (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993).

8 Most notably, John Rawls, The Law of Peoples (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999), and David Miller, On Nationality (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995) and National Responsibility and Global Justice (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).

9 In order to be maximally comprehensive, we do not commit ourselves to any specific account of justice. For the purposes of this article, principles of justice are understood as a class of principles grounding particularly stringent distributive duties. Global egalitarians take different views on the justification of such principles. Some, for instance, see them as dependent on the existence of certain kinds of social institutions or relations (for example, Thomas Pogge, Charles Beitz – in his early work – and Darrel Moellendorf) while others reject this institutionalist view (for example, Simon Caney and Kok-Chor Tan). Our account aims to be neutral across these different positions.

10 This point is made by David Miller in ‘Against Global Egalitarianism’, The Journal of Ethics, 9 (2005), pp. 55–79, esp. pp. 58–9. Notice that Miller's definition of global egalitarianism is narrower than ours. In particular, unlike Miller, we do not claim that (i) global egalitarians always condemn global inequalities as intrinsically wrong – as opposed to wrong because they undermine some other, more foundational, value – and (ii) the only inequalities that matter to them are inequalities between persons – rather than between states or groups. We shortly elaborate on these points in the main text.

11 Brian Barry once held a position of this kind. See his ‘Do Countries Have Moral Obligations? The Case of World Poverty’, in Sterling M. McMurrin (ed.), The Tanner Lectures on Human Values Volume II (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1981). David Miller also gestures towards this position when discussing power inequalities between societies in National Responsibility and Global Justice, pp. 75–6.

12 So-called ‘cosmopolitan’ theorists typically hold this view. Prominent contemporary defences of cosmopolitanism are offered by Charles R. Beitz in Political Theory and International Relations with a new afterword (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999) and Thomas W. Pogge, Realizing Rawls (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1989). More recent statements of cosmopolitanism are offered by Moellendorf, Cosmopolitan Justice, Caney, Justice beyond Borders, and Tan, Justice without Borders.

13 Amartya K. Sen, Inequality Reexamined (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992), p. 73.

14 Leading discussions of such goods include John Rawls, A Theory of Justice (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1971), John Rawls, ‘Social Unity and Primary Goods,’ in Amartya Sen and Bernard Williams (eds), Utilitarianism and Beyond (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), pp. 159–86, Amartya Sen, Commodities and Capabilities (Amsterdam: North-Holland, 1985), and the essays in Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum (eds), The Quality of Life (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993). For discussions of the relevant goods in the global context, see also Simon Caney, ‘Cosmopolitan Justice and Equalizing Opportunities’, Metaphilosophy, 32 (2001), pp. 113–34, and Thomas Pogge, ‘Human Flourishing and Universal Justice’, Social Philosophy and Policy, 16 (1999), pp. 333–61 (reprinted as chapter 1 of his World Poverty and Human Rights).

15 We shall discuss the relevance of considerations of (national) responsibility to global equality in section V of this article. Cf. the position on domestic justice known as luck-egalitarianism discussed in Elizabeth Anderson, ‘What is the Point of Equality?’, Ethics, 109 (1999), pp. 287–337.

16 Rawls, A Theory of Justice. It is because Rawls treats equality as a morally privileged benchmark that he counts as an egalitarian in our sense. Strict prioritarians – who enjoin us simply to maximise the worst representative socioeconomic position – would not be egalitarians in our sense, since they do not maintain that there are restrictions on permissible inequalities.

17 As also pointed out by Andrea Sangiovanni in his ‘Global Justice, Reciprocity, and the State’, Philosophy and Public Affairs, 35 (2007), pp. 3–39, p. 8.

18 We borrow this phrase from Shelly Kagan. See his ‘The Structure of Normative Ethics’, Philosophical Perspectives, 6 (1992), pp. 223–42.

19 See, for example, Samuel Freeman, ‘The Law of Peoples, Social Cooperation, Human Rights, and Distributive Justice’, Social Philosophy and Policy, 23 (2006), pp. 29–68, p. 37.

20 Rawls, A Theory of Justice, p. 4.

21 Ibid., p. 4.

22 Arash Abizadeh has forcefully argued for this conclusion in ‘Cooperation, Pervasive Impact, and Coercion: On the Scope (not Site) of Distributive Justice’, Philosophy & Public Affairs, 35 (2007),pp. 318–58, at pp. 330–1. In particular, Abizadeh helpfully distinguishes between three different understandings of what a Rawlsian basic structure is – in terms of social cooperation, pervasive impact and coercion – and argues that, on none of these interpretations, the scope of egalitarian demands can plausibly be restricted to the domestic arena. On similar issues see also Simon Caney, ‘Global Distributive Justice and the State’, Political Studies, 57 (2008), pp. 487–518.

23 Pogge, Realizing Rawls, p. 21.

24 For discussion see Pogge, Realizing Rawls, esp. pp. 23–5.

25 For a general discussion of the multiple dimensions of global ‘social cooperation’ so understood see John Baylis and Steve Smith (eds), The Globalization of World Politics: An Introduction to International Relations (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005).

26 Brian Barry, ‘Humanity and Justice in Global Perspective’, in B. Barry, Liberty and Justice: Essays in Political Theory, 2 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991), pp. 182–210, esp. 194 and Sangiovanni, ‘Global Justice’.

27 Sangiovanni, ‘Global Justice’, p. 19.

28 Cf. Onora O'Neill's distinction between primary and secondary agents of justice in her ‘Agents of Justice’, Metaphilosophy, 32 (2001), pp. 180–95.

29 Sangiovanni, ‘Global Justice’, p. 20.

30 See, famously, Nozick, Anarchy, State and Utopia.

31 Of course, what reciprocity requires depends a great deal on the particular relationship in question. For a helpful discussion, see Richard J. Arneson, ‘Do Patriotic Ties Limit Global Justice Duties?’, The Journal of Ethics, 9 (2005), pp. 127–50, esp. pp. 135–6.

32 Sangiovanni offers a good one, arguing that even though some may contribute more to the overall joint social product then others, their having made such contributions depends on background institutions to which all contributed, even if only through their submission. Sangiovanni, ‘Global Justice’, p. 26.

33 Arash Abizadeh also considers this version of the argument from social cooperation and forcefully challenges the idea that the provision of primary goods could be an ‘existence condition’ of justice. Abizadeh, ‘Cooperation, Pervasive Impact, and Coercion’, pp. 336–7.

34 For an interesting discussion, see Leif Wenar, ‘International Property Rights and the Resource Curse’, Philosophy and Public Affairs, 36 (2008), pp. 2–32.

35 See, for example, the discussion in Eric Cavallero, ‘An Immigration-pressure Model of Global Distributive Justice’, Politics, Philosophy & Economics, 5 (2006), pp. 97–127.

36 See, for example, Nigel Harris, ‘Migration without Borders: The Economic Perspective’ (2004), draft, Migration without borders series. Available at

37 Michael Blake, ‘Distributive Justice, State Coercion, and Autonomy’, Philosophy and Public Affairs, 30 (2001), pp. 257–96, Nagel, ‘The Problem of Global Justice’. Some of these points were originally made by Richard W. Miller in ‘Cosmopolitan Respect and Patriotic Concern’, Philosophy and Public Affairs, 27 (1998), pp. 202–24.

38 Our account of the coercion view follows principally Michael Blake's in ‘Distributive Justice’.

39 See Blake, ‘Distributive Justice’, p. 272. On the specific effects of coercion on persons' will see Onora O'Neill, Bounds of Justice (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), ch. 5.

40 For this reason some have contested the assumption that coercion is indeed prima facie morally problematic, see Arneson, ‘Do Patriotic Ties Limit Global Justice Duties?’, pp. 136–42, and Ryan Pevnick, ‘Political Coercion and the Scope of Distributive Justice’, Political Studies, 56 (2008),pp. 399–413.

41 See, for example, Nozick, Anarchy, State and Utopia.

42 Robert P. Wolff, In Defense of Anarchism (New York: Harper and Row, 1970).

43 Blake, ‘Distributive Justice’, p. 265.

44 See Abizadeh, ‘Cooperation, Pervasive Impact, and Coercion’, pp. 348–50 for discussion.

45 For valuable discussions of these points see David Grewal, Globalization and Network Power (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2008), and Mathias Risse, ‘What to Say About the State’, Social Theory and Practice, 32 (2006), pp. 671–98, esp. p. 681. Thomas Pogge has argued that the global economic order is coercively imposed by the world's wealthy and privileged on the world's poor in his World Poverty and Human Rights, esp. ch. 4.

46 Nagel, ‘The Problem of Global Justice’, pp. 128–30.

47 For this line of critique against Nagel see Abizadeh ‘Cooperation, Pervasive Impact and Coercion’, pp. 348–50, A. J. Julius, ‘Nagel's Atlas’, Philosophy and Public Affairs, 34 (2006), 176–92, pp. 179–80, and Pevnick, ‘Political Coercion and the Scope of Distributive Justice’, pp. 403–6.

48 Related to this is Risse's claim that what makes state coercion special is its distinctive immediacy and directness. See Risse, ‘What to Say About the State’, pp. 685ff.

49 On this point see Risse, ‘What to Say About the State’, p. 680.

50 Cf. Sangiovanni, ‘Global Justice’, pp. 8–13.

51 This claim is explicitly made by Saladin Meckled-Garcia, ‘On the Very Idea of Cosmopolitan Justice: Constructivism and International Agency’, Journal of Political Philosophy, (2008), pp. 245–71.

52 So, for instance, Samuel Freeman argues that a ‘global difference principle would be without both agency and object – no legal person to implement it, and no legal system to which it is applicable’. See Freeman, ‘The Law of Peoples’, p. 61.

53 The mere fact that no single agent can, acting alone, further the demands of a principle would not seem a good basis for dismissing the principle as impracticable.

54 See, for example, Meckled-Garcia, ‘On the Very Idea of Cosmopolitan Justice’.

55 See Freeman, ‘The Law of Peoples’, p. 62.

56 For a cogent statement of this point, see Beitz, Political Theory and International Relations, p. 156.

57 In the US of 1800, for example, it may have been that there were no agents who, acting together, could have realised principles of racial equality completely, at least in the short term.

58 We take it as obvious that the mere fact that a state is characterised by weak institutions or rapacious officials such that no agents are causally capable of promoting significantly egalitarian goals does not in itself show that egalitarian demands would not apply to such a society.

59 Joseph Carens also discusses the example of slavery to highlight the potentially conservative implications of ‘realistic’ (hence likely to be effective) political theorising in his ‘Realistic and Idealistic Approaches to the Ethics of Migration’, International Migration Review, 30 (1996),pp. 156–70, esp. pp. 164–6.

60 Robert E. Goodin, ‘Political Ideals and Political Practice’, British Journal of Political Science, 25 (1995), pp. 37–56, p. 40.

61 Meckled-Garcia, ‘On the Very Idea of Cosmopolitan Justice’.

62 Here we follow the accounts developed in Onora O'Neill, Constructions of Reason: Explorations of Kant's Practical Philosophy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990) and Thomas Hill, Dignity and Practical Reason in Kant's Moral Theory (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1992).

63 Onora O'Neill, Faces of Hunger: An Essay on Poverty, Justice, and Development (London: Allen and Unwin, 1986).

64 For discussion, see Amartya Sen, ‘Consequential Evaluation and Practical Reason’, Journal of Philosophy, 96 (2000), pp. 477–502, and Thomas Pogge, ‘O'Neill on Rights and Duties’, Grazer Philosophische Studien, 43 (1992), pp. 233–47.

65 On the implausibility of confining justice to the realm of perfect duties see Allen Buchanan, ‘Justice and Charity’, Ethics, 97 (1987), pp. 558–75, esp. pp. 570–1. For further critical discussion of agency-based arguments against global egalitarianism see Laura Valentini, ‘Global Justice: Cosmopolitanism, Social Liberalism, and the Coercion View’ (University College London: Ph.D. Thesis, 2008), ch. 5.

66 This type of argument has been advanced by John Rawls, The Law of Peoples, pp. 117–8, David Miller, ‘Justice and Global Inequality’, in Andrew Hurrel and Ngaire Woods (eds), Inequality, Globalization, and World Politics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), pp. 187–210, esp.pp. 193–5, and Michael Blake, ‘Distributive Justice’, pp. 289–94.

67 As Miller puts it: ‘Why be an ant, if the grasshoppers are guaranteed equal access to your store of winter provisions?’ in National Responsibility and Global Justice, p. 71. Detailed discussion of all three claims may be found in chapter 3 of Miller's book.

68 This is noted by Miller in National Responsibility and Global Justice, pp. 69–70.

69 Such a global egalitarian view is explored by Alexander Cappelen in ‘Responsibility and International Distributive Justice’, in Andreas Føllesdal and Thomas Pogge (eds), Real World Justice (Berlin: Springer, 2005), pp. 209–22.

70 This point is forcefully made by Pogge, World Poverty and Human Rights, ch. 4, and acknowledged by Miller in National Responsibility and Global Justice, p. 69.

71 See, for example, Mathias Risse's (anti-global-egalitarian) discussion of what he calls geographical, institutional, and integration factors in ‘How Does the Global Order Harm the Poor’, Philosophy and Public Affairs, 33 (2005), pp. 349–76. See also Miller's remarks in National Responsibility and Global Justice, ch. 9.

72 See Charles R. Beitz, ‘Rawls's Law of Peoples’, Ethics, 110 (2000), pp. 669–96, p. 690, for discussion.

73 For a very interesting discussion, see David Miller, ‘Holding Nations Responsible’, Ethics, 114 (2003–2004), pp. 240–68, and National Responsibility and Global Justice, ch. 6.

74 See Thomas W. Pogge, ‘Rawls on International Justice’, Philosophical Quarterly, 51 (2001),pp. 246–53, esp. pp. 249–50, and ‘Do Rawls's two Theories of Justice Fit Together?’, in Rex Martin and David Reidy (eds), Rawls's Law of Peoples: A Realistic Utopia? (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2006), pp. 206–25.

75 In so saying we are not suggesting that Rawls is a ‘luck-egalitarian’, but simply pointing to the centrality of considerations of responsibility in his theory of domestic justice. For discussion see Mathias Risse and Michael Blake, ‘Two Models of Equality and Responsibility’, Canadian Journal of Philosophy, (2008), pp. 165–99.

76 John Rawls, Political Liberalism with a New Introduction and the ‘Reply to Habermas’ (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996), p. 267. For discussion see Pogge, ‘Rawls on International Justice’, p. 250.

77 So, for instance, Pogge argues that Rawls's own (anti-egalitarian) approach to international justice ‘does not protect poor societies against skewed (and deteriorating) terms of cooperation exacted from them through the greater (and increasing) bargaining power of the affluent’. Pogge, ‘Rawls on International Justice’, p. 251. David Miller also expresses similar worries (though in the context of a much more sympathetic analysis of Rawls), saying that ‘inequalities between peoples may also constitute inequalities of power, which will have a distorting effect on future terms of international cooperation’. See David Miller, ‘Collective Responsibility and International Inequality in The Law of Peoples’ in Rawls's Law of Peoples: A Realistic Utopia?, pp. 191–205, p. 203. In fact, Miller has recently argued that ‘self-determination also gives us a reason to limit global inequality’, in National Responsibility and Global Justice, p. 74, n. 22, emphasis in original.

78 David Miller and John Rawls seem to be both aware of this. See, respectively, The Law of Peoples, p. 53 and National Responsibility and Global Justice, pp. 75–6.

79 This point is forcefully made against Rawls by Simon Caney in ‘Cosmopolitanism and the Law of Peoples’, Journal of Political Philosophy, 10 (2002), pp. 95–123, p. 118, and by Thomas W. Pogge in ‘The Incoherence between Rawls's Theories of Justice’, Fordham Law Review, 72 (2004),pp. 1739–59, p. 1751.

80 Miller, National Responsibility and Global Justice, pp. 70–1.

81 David Miller, ‘Against Global Egalitarianism’ and National Responsibility and Global Justice, ch. 3. A more recent statement of this type of argument is offered by Gillian Brock, ‘Caney's Global Political Theory’, Journal of Global Ethics, 3 (2007), sec. 1. For responses to this type of criticisms see Simon Caney, ‘Cosmopolitan Justice and Equalizing Opportunities’, Metaphilosophy, 32 (2001), pp. 113–34, esp. pp. 118–22 and ‘Justice, Borders and the Cosmopolitan Ideal: A Reply to Two Critics’, Journal of Global Ethics, 3 (2007), pp. 269–76, esp. 269–272.

82 Miller, ‘Against Global Egalitarianism’, p. 63.

83 John Rawls, ‘Kantian Constructivism in Moral Theory’ (1980), in Samuel Freeman (ed.) John Rawls: Collected Papers (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999), pp. 303–58.

84 In Miller's words, ‘It is essentially the problem of saying what equality of opportunity means in a culturally plural world in which different societies will construct goods in different ways and also rank them in different ways’. See National Responsibility and Global Justice, p. 67, emphasis in original.

85 Caney, ‘Justice, Borders and the Cosmopolitan Ideal’, p. 270.

86 Cf. the (controversial) list of capabilities defended by Martha Nussbaum in Women and Human Development (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), pp. 78–80.

87 As Leif Wenar has recently pointed out, the egalitarian can say that our goal should be to leave aside the more difficult cases and ‘make individuals equal in ways they clearly and uncontroversially are now not’. See Leif Wenar, ‘Humanity and Equality in the Work of David Miller’, Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, 11 (2008) pp. 401–11, p. 403.

88 Caney, ‘Justice, Borders and The Cosmopolitan Ideal’, p. 271.

89 Rawls, The Law of Peoples, pp. 59–60.

90 This critique has been advanced, for instance, by Kok-Chor Tan, ‘Liberal Toleration in Rawls's Law of Peoples’, Ethics, 108 (1998), pp. 275–95, at pp. 282ff., Andrew Kuper, ‘Rawlsian Global Justice: Beyond The Law of Peoples to a Cosmopolitan Law of Persons’, Political Theory, 28 (2000),pp. 640–74, at pp. 648–53, Pogge, ‘Rawls on International Justice’, at p. 249 and ‘An Egalitarian Law of Peoples’, Philosophy and Public Affairs, 23 (1994), pp. 195–224, at. pp. 214–7. See also Caney, ‘Cosmopolitanism and the Law of Peoples’, pp. 100–103 and pp. 105–6, Beitz, ‘Rawls's Law of Peoples’, pp. 683–6, Allen Buchanan, ‘Rawls's Law of Peoples: Rules for a Vanished Westphalian World’, Ethics, 110 (2000), pp. 697–721, at pp. 718–9, and Saladin Meckled-Garcia, ‘International Justice, Human Rights and Neutrality’, Res Publica, 10 (2004), pp. 153–74, at pp. 160–3.

91 Rawls, ‘The Law of Peoples’, (1993), in Samuel Freeman (ed.), John Rawls: Collected Papers, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999), pp. 529–64, p. 561.

92 See Tan, ‘Liberal Toleration’, pp. 282–4 for discussion.

93 Similar suggestions are made, for instance, by Henry Shue, ‘Rawls and the Outlaws’, Politics, Philosophy & Economics, 1 (2002), pp. 307–23, p. 311 and Pogge, ‘The Incoherence between Rawls's Theories of Justice’, p. 1758.

94 Rawls, The Law of Peoples, p. 62.

95 This reading of Rawls's The Law of Peoples is forcefully defended by David A. Reidy in his, ‘Rawls on International Justice: A Defense’, Political Theory, 32 (2004), pp. 291–319, pp. 306–16. See also Freeman, ‘The Law of Peoples’, p. 50.

96 For a description of the features of decent societies see Rawls see The Law of Peoples, pp. 64–8.

97 This is the main thrust of the criticisms raised against The Law of Peoples by the critics mentioned at footnote 90.

98 We discussed the implausible implications of feasibility understood as ‘realisability in the here and now’ in the section on agency.

99 Rawls, The Law of Peoples, p. 12.

100 See Harry Brighouse, Justice (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2004), ch. 2.

101 We borrow the concept of moral accessibility from Allen Buchanan, Justice, Legitimacy, and Self-Determination (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), p. 61. See also Juha Räikkä, ‘The Feasibility Condition in Political Theory’, Journal of Political Philosophy, 6 (1998), pp. 27–40. Räikkä maintains that, in assessing the plausibility of an ideal theory, we should take into account the ‘moral costs of changeover’, p. 35.

102 For discussion of these points see also Valentini, ‘Global Justice’, ch. 2, and ‘The Law of Peoples between Ideal and Non-ideal Theory’ (University College London: MA thesis, 2005).

103 Rawls, The Law of Peoples, p. 112, n. 44. This point is noted and discussed by Beitz in ‘Rawls's Law of Peoples’, pp. 681–2.

104 Rawls, The Law of Peoples, p. 36. See also Immanuel Kant, Perpetual Peace, in H. Reiss (ed.), Kant's Political Writings (London: Cambridge University Press, 1970).

105 Nagel, ‘The Problem of Global Justice’, p. 146.

106 These issues have been explored illuminatingly and at length by Beitz in Political Theory and International Relations, pp. 156–7. Our argument here is very much in line with his.

107 Thomas W. Pogge, ‘Cosmopolitanism and Sovereignty’, Ethics, 103 (1992), pp. 48–75. See also Andrew Kuper, who sketches a system of ‘functional plural sovereignty’, in Kuper ‘Rawlsian Global Justice’, and more fully in his Democracy beyond Borders: Justice and Representation in Global Institutions (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).

108 For a ‘state-centred’ account of how this might be possible see Lea L. Ypi, ‘Statist Cosmopolitanism’, Journal of Political Philosophy, 16 (2008), pp. 48–71.

109 On the capacity of institutions to shape persons' character see Joshua Cohen, ‘Taking People as They Are?’, Philosophy and Public Affairs, 30 (2001), pp. 363–86.

110 Arash Abizadeh makes a similar point in his discussion of the feasibility of a just global basic structure in his ‘Cooperation, Pervasive Impact, and Coercion’, pp. 340–1.

111 In a similar vein, Amartya Sen distinguishes between what he calls ‘transcendental’ and ‘purely comparative’ approaches to justice. See Sen, ‘What Do We Want from a Theory of Justice?’, The Journal of Philosophy, 103 (2006), pp. 215–38. Sen maintains (incorrectly in our view) that Rawls's principles are ‘transcendental’.

112 This suggestion is made by Michael Phillips in his ‘Reflections on the Transition from Ideal to Non-Ideal Theory’, Noûs, 19 (1985), 551–70, esp. p. 557.

113 See Robert Goodin's helpful discussion of second-best theories in ‘Political Ideals and Political Practice’.

114 For an interesting discussion of the forceful imposition of democracy see Allen Buchanan, ‘Institutionalizing the Just War’, Philosophy and Public Affairs, 34 (2006), pp. 2–38.

115 See Charles R. Beitz's remarks in ‘Cosmopolitan Ideals and National Sentiment’, The Journal of Philosophy, 80 (1983), pp. 591–600, p. 595.

116 For further discussion of the relation between ideal theory and political practice in theorising about global justice see Charles R. Beitz, ‘Justice and International Relations’, Philosophy and Public Affairs, 4 (1975), pp. 360–89, esp. pp. 383–9.

* We are grateful to Pablo Gilabert, Robert Goodin, Iseult Honohan, Fiona Jenkins, Eszter Kollar, Cécile Laborde, Christian List, Gerhard Øverland, Matt Peterson, Thomas Pogge, Larry Temkin and Lea Ypi for very helpful comments on earlier versions of this article.

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