Kantian Ethics and Global Justice

Social Theory and Practice 23 (1):53-73 (1997)
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Kant divides moral duties into duties of virtue and duties of justice. Duties of virtue are imperfect duties, the fulfillment of which is left to agent discretion and so cannot be externally demanded of one. Duties of justice, while perfect, seem to be restricted to negative duties (of nondeception and noncoercion). It may seem then that Kant's moral philosophy cannot meet the demands of global justice. I argue, however, that Kantian justice when applied to the social and historical realities of the world can generate positive duties to promote and provide for the well being of others.

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Kok-Chor Tan
University of Pennsylvania


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