Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 12
  • Cited by
    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Meckled-Garcia, Saladin 2016. Two concepts of justice – and of its scope. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, Vol. 19, Issue. 5, p. 534.

    Nili, Shmuel 2015. Who’s afraid of a world state? A global sovereign and the statist-cosmopolitan debate. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, Vol. 18, Issue. 3, p. 241.

    Brock, Gillian 2014. A Companion to Rawls.

    Brock, Gillian 2013. Contemporary Cosmopolitanism: Some Current Issues. Philosophy Compass, Vol. 8, Issue. 8, p. 689.

    Sievers-Glotzbach, Stefanie 2013. Ecosystem Services and Distributive Justice: Considering Access Rights to Ecosystem Services in Theories of Distributive Justice. Ethics, Policy & Environment, Vol. 16, Issue. 2, p. 162.

    DE BRES, HELENA 2012. The Many, Not the Few: Pluralism About Global Distributive Justice*. Journal of Political Philosophy, Vol. 20, Issue. 3, p. 314.

    Maffettone, Sebastiano 2012. Global Justice: Between Leviathan and Cosmopolis. Global Policy, Vol. 3, Issue. 4, p. 443.

    UEHARA, Kenji 2012. ‘International’ Distributive Justice. The Annuals of Japanese Political Science Association, Vol. 63, Issue. 2, p. 2_331.

    ORRÙ, ELISA and RONZONI, MIRIAM 2011. Which supranational sovereignty? Criminal and socioeconomic justice compared. Review of International Studies, Vol. 37, Issue. 05, p. 2089.

    Ypi, Lea 2009. On the Confusion between Ideal and Non-ideal in Recent Debates on Global Justice. Political Studies, Vol. 58, Issue. 3, p. 536.

    Meckled-Garcia, Saladin 2008. On the Very Idea of Cosmopolitan Justice: Constructivism and International Agency*. Journal of Political Philosophy, Vol. 16, Issue. 3, p. 245.

    Tan, Kok-Chor 2006. The Boundary of Justice and the Justice of Boundaries: Defending Global Egalitarianism. The Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence, Vol. 19, Issue. 02, p. 319.



  • Samuel Freeman (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 January 2006

Cosmopolitans argue that the account of human rights and distributive justice in John Rawls's The Law of Peoples is incompatible with his argument for liberal justice. Rawls should extend his account of liberal basic liberties and the guarantees of distributive justice to apply to the world at large. This essay defends Rawls's grounding of political justice in social cooperation. The Law of Peoples is drawn up to provide principles of foreign policy for liberal peoples. Human rights are among the necessary conditions for social cooperation, and so long as a decent people respect human rights, a common good, and the Law of Peoples, it is not the role of liberal peoples to impose upon well-ordered decent peoples liberal liberties they cannot endorse. Moreover, the difference principle is not an allocative or alleviatory principle, but applies to design property and other basic social institutions necessary to economic production, exchange and consumption. It presupposes political cooperation—a legislative body to actively apply it, and a legal system to apply it to. There is no feasible global state or global legal system that could serve these roles. Finally, the difference principle embodies a conception of democratic reciprocity that is only appropriate to cooperation among free and equal citizens who are socially productive and politically autonomous.I am grateful to K. C. Tan for many helpful discussions and criticisms of this essay. I am also grateful to the other contributors to this volume for their comments, and to Ellen Paul for her many helpful suggestions in preparing the final version of this essay.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Social Philosophy and Policy
  • ISSN: 0265-0525
  • EISSN: 1471-6437
  • URL: /core/journals/social-philosophy-and-policy
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *