Global Justice and the Role of the State: A Critical Survey

In Thom Brooks (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Global Justice. New York, NY, USA: (2020)
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Reference to the state is ubiquitous in debates about global justice. Some authors see the state as central to the justification of principles of justice, and thereby reject their extension to the international realm. Others emphasize its role in the implementation of those principles. This chapter scrutinizes the variety of ways in which the state figures in the global-justice debate. Our discussion suggests that, although the state should have a prominent role in theorizing about global justice, contrary to what is commonly thought, acknowledging this role does not lead to anti-cosmopolitan conclusions, but to the defense of an “intermediate” position about global justice. From a justificatory perspective, we argue, the state remains a key locus for the application of egalitarian principles of justice, but is not the only one. From the perspective of implementation, we suggest that state institutions are increasingly fragile in a heavily interdependent world, and need to be supplemented—though not supplanted—with supranational authorities.
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