Distributive justice as a (uniquely) domestic problem

Rawls’s emphasis on the basic structure is central to the argument that the problem of distributive justice arises only within sovereign states. Rawls does not go so far and he said that no principle of justice is applied to the international sphere. The principles of justice he identifies for the domestic sphere are inapplicable to the international realm. 5 The institutions of the basic structure provide the framework for individuals’ activities and lives in the domestic realm and define their entitlements, duties and associations.

As such, these institutions stand in need of special justification to the persons who are subject to them. This is not the case in the international realm. No equivalent institutions exist there, and those which do exist are not in need of justification in the same way as those in the domestic. Not surprisingly, the principles applicable in the domestic domain are not appropriate for the international.

Its mean is not that the international realm is not governed by any principles of justice but the subject of justice is different in international realm. To promote peace and toleration between states, Principles of justice for the international realm set out rules. One approach to solving the problem of justice in the international realm is offered in ‘Law of Peoples’ by Rawls. These principles are not intended to regulate the conduct of individual persons within states nor are they meant to be realized in domestic institutions.

4. John Rawls, The Law of Peoples. Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1999. p. 4 5. for instance Rawls, The Law of Peoples. Principles to govern the relations between reasonable just liberal peoples are specified The Law of Peoples specifies. These principles are designed to govern relations between states rather than activity within them. Rawls is hardly the only one to defend a state-centric, institutional account of distributive justice.

These state-centric accounts of distributive justice are too limited. This is argued. There is no reason to believe that individuals’ moral ties extend only to persons with whom they share membership in a society (understood as a ‘cooperative scheme’ governed by a ‘basic structure’). The problem of justice arises only within a territorial state means it is the scope of justice. The bounds within which principles of justice apply are known as the scope of justice.

More precisely, with respect to distributive justice, a specification of the persons to whom a distribution (or redistribution) ought to be made. As we noted earlier that distributive justice is concerned with the distribution of some set of goods to some set of recipients. We understand wealth and resources as ‘goods’ in the general terms. But for Rawls ‘goods’ includes political and social rights and duties. We can distinguish political (or legal) cosmopolitanism and moral cosmopolitanism.

Political (or legal) cosmopolitanism is a set of views to do with the way our political and social lives ought to be governed and how our political institutions ought to be structured. Political cosmopolitans suppose that political authority should ultimately be vested in supranational political institutions, rather than individual nation-states. How our institutions ought to be structured, moral cosmopolitans need not have a view about this. Moral cosmopolitanism has many variations, but three basic commitments are shared by them.

First is a commitment to individualism means human individuals are the basic units of moral concern rather than groups or other collectivities. Second moral cosmopolitans are egalitarian means from a moral point of view, each individual is equal. Third, they are moral universalists means the proper scope of moral concern encompasses all persons. We still don’t know what could be meant by the claim that a distribution ought to be made to a population or group of recipients that is global in scope.

To understand this claim There are two ways, each of which shares a commitment to the existence of global principles of distributive justice, which is to say that principles of distributive justice should be applied to all persons regardless of their nationality (or any other special feature about them). The strong version of cosmopolitanism says that distributive justice is exclusively global means principles of distributive justice can be concerned with no less than all persons. Local ties, affiliations and duties are unrelated to the problem.

This view includes both the positive claim that there are global principles of distributive justice and the negative claim that there are no other such principles. ? Charles Beitz thinking and its comparison with Rawls’s thinking- Much of Rawls’s framing of the problem of distributive justice is accepted by Charles Beitz but he argued that scope of the Rawls’s theory was wrong. Beitz says that Rawls was correct to visualize of principles of justice as principles to rule the basic institutional structure rather than individual conduct.

According to Beitz our thinking on justice should be framed in terms of a social contract. Beitz says that Rawls was incorrect to argue that the relevant institutions (the basic structure) exist only in self-sufficient societies or peoples. The ‘scheme of cooperation’ that is described by the Rawls, economic institutions most notably, exists in the international or global sphere and it is this global basic structure that principles of justice ought to govern. 7 The relevant institutions are conceived in broader terms by Beitz than Rawls.

The problem of justice is raised wherever, according to Beitz’s and social activity produces relative or absolute benefits or burdens that would not exist if the social activity did not take place. 7. Charles Beitz, Political Theory and International Relations For example, societies are now affected by their contribution in (or exclusion from) the global economy via trade and financial markets. Citizens of ‘just’ or ‘nearly just’ regimes (in Rawls’s terms) are benefited by engaging in trade and other economic activities with unjust or needy regimes.

These gains come at the price of other societies, the ‘losers’ who are either excluded entirely from the global basic structure or marginalized within it. On the above discussion we can say that the scope defined by the Charles Beitz is more right compare to the Rawls. According to Charles Beitz International institutions and agreements are taking on new importance (as are supranational organizations such as the European Union) for the relations between states and derivatively for the welfare and wellbeing of individuals.

? Conclusion- At this stage we are able to say something about global justice. But it appears that nearly everything is being contested. Is distributive justice is a relationship between individuals? Do individuals stand directly in this relation to one another? Is justice only something we owe to one another through a mediating structure or institution? What sort of institutions are the relevant ones? Is it is a special relation, or one that exists between all persons simply because they are human beings?

And this does not start to touch on the larger questions: what is the subject of justice? What is the thing that is being estimated as just or unjust? By what standard – what principle of justice – ought we to evaluate the thing? Is it the kind of evaluation that carries with it definite rights or claims – for repair, rectification, redistribution? If so, who are the persons who may bring claims in justice? Are there certain assumptions that the concept of justice makes? Do we assume that persons have certain moral capacities?

Does reasoning about justice need that persons share a common framework of norms and ideas? And perhaps the most important set of questions: who are the morally-relevant agents in the global realm, Individuals, Groups, Peoples, and States? Does it make sense to treat the individual agent as the “primary bearer of normative responsibility” in the global realm? Who (which individuals) or what (which institution or state or group of states) is duty-bound to make good, claims in distributive justice?

Most of these writers have the same opinion that the problem of distributive justice arises only among the persons who stand in some sort of relation to one another. For Rawls, the relevant relation is one mediated by certain institutions. Because of the role the institutions of the basic structure plays in determining the life prospects of the individuals who constitute a state or in his terms, people, special justification is needed: the institutions must be justified to those who are subject to them.

Still it has not been made clear exactly what work the idea of institutions or coercion or mix thereof does, such that the problem of distributive justice is said to arise only in the domestic state. One potential direction for research on these topics would be to clarify what it means to claim that these types of relations – those mediated by institutions of a coercive or political nature – give rise to duties in justice, to explore whether accepting these claims mean that there can be no claims of distributive justice in the global domain.

For Beitz the key element in determining whether the problem of distributive justice arises appears to be a question of causation: if we can tell some story in which I benefit and you lose, by virtue of our participation in (or exclusion from) a set of cross-border interactions (perhaps most importantly, economic), the framework by which these interactions are governed ought to be governed by principles of distributive justice.

This account makes sense, intuitively: if I can be said to have caused or contributed to your poverty or suffering, it makes sense to treat me as responsible. But looking at this account more closely, the intuitive appeal disappears. With respect to many of the questions that we believe ought to be taken up as a matter of global justice, it makes no sense to treat the individual as the responsible agent – no single individual can be said to have ‘caused’ the bird flu, global warming or world poverty.

And if an agent cannot be said to have caused or contributed to harm, it is difficult to see how and why we should hold her responsible. Thus if we can’t identify a single responsible agent or party, we face an interesting question from a moral and political standpoint: should we distribute burdens or responsibilities among persons who cannot be said to have ‘caused’ or contributed to the harm in question?

On the above discussion we can say that the Beitz’s theory can be easily implemented in comparison to Rawls’s theory and Beitz’s theory is more effective than Rawls’s theory because Rawls’s theory has some weak points which have been removed by Beitz. The real work to be done may not be in figuring out which of these accounts – institutional / state-centric, cosmopolitan, nationalist – is ‘correct’ – that is, whether we have special duties or general duties, local ones or universal (global) ones, natural or acquired obligations.

It is conceivable that we have a variety of moral duties, some of which are owed by one individual directly to another, others that are owed by one individual to another through a mediating institution, group or entity. And we have already seen that there may be a way to recognize a variety of general duties – a commitment to a basic set of human rights, for example – and still preserve space for special consideration for compatriots. They need not be mutually exclusive.

If this is the case – that is, we have some special duties and other general duties to persons – and we cannot meld these competing accounts of our duties to one another into a single moral scheme, perhaps we ought, instead, to find a way to negotiate the tension between them. On my view this hints at the most interesting set of issues that come out of the debate we have canvassed: a tension in between our notions of individual and collective responsibility, and between these notions of responsibility and existing institutional frameworks.

Of course this is only one possible approach to the question, by what principles ought the global sphere to be governed? But this problem – defining the appropriate spheres of individual and collective responsibility – highlights a number of problems in defining the problem of global justice and might be as good a starting point as any other to a discussion of these issues, as well as one of the most fundamental challenges that a coherent theory of global justice must face.

Only then can we begin to consider the practical questions of how best to conceive of the moral significance of political borders, the role that transnational institutions and organizations ought to play in realizing global justice, and the prerogatives of sovereign states that are appropriate to frame the global sphere as a moral and political realm in which persons act, interact and which determines (in large part) their life prospects.