Pogge on global justice

by Yu, Lixia

Abstract (Summary)
(Uncorrected OCR) Abstract of thesis entitled

Pogge on Global Justice Submitted by


for the degree of Master of Philosophy Department of Philosophy

at the University of Hong Kong in March 2004

Two urgent global problems call for responses. One is that there are great global inequalities: a lot of people in the developed countries enjoy a high quality of life, whereas a lot of others in the developing countries suffer from poverty and die from hunger and easily curable diseases. The other is that our world is full of conflicts between societies with different cultures and traditions. Theories of global justice can shed light on these serious problems and guide us to solve these problems. John Rawls addresses domestic justice in A Theory of Justice. Thomas Pogge,

among other philosophers, has been advocating extending Rawls's domestic justice to the global level to develop global justice. Rawls, too, extends his domestic justice and addresses global justice in The Law of Peoples.

In this thesis, I examine Pogge's position on global inequalities and human rights fulfillment in diverse societies in light of Rawls's Law of Peoples. Rawls refuses to be a cosmopolitan in global justice. From Pogge's cosmopolitan standpoint, Rawls should ground global justice on individualism to be consistent with his own commitments in domestic justice. My aim in this thesis is to see how

liberal global principles can guide resolutions of these two problems.

Pogge argues against Rawls's suggestion of global justice in A Theory of Justice and proposes cosmopolitan global justice before the publication of Raw Is's Law of Peoples. Pogge differs from Rawls in dealing with the two urgent global problems and criticizes Rawls's ideas in The Law of Peoples from the cosmopolitan standpoint. I defend Pogge's view that the affluent should bear negative duties to the global poor to reduce severe world poverty against Rawls's duty of assistance. With the focus on the well-being of individuals, Pogge proposes a global difference principle. I argue, however, that a global difference principle is mistaken in seeking to increase the well-being of individuals endlessly. I suggest that Pogge expects too much from the difference principle and it is the responsibility of a well-ordered society to increase the well-being of its individuals.

Disputes on whether toleration of nonliberal societies is acceptable exemplify another conflict between Pogge and Rawls. From Pogge's point of view, Rawls's toleration of decent societies betrays liberal tolerance as these nonliberal societies endanger individual liberties. I suggest that Pogge's liberal world order, incorporating a full list of human rights recognized by liberal societies, seems to impose liberal values on other societies and may not be compatible with cultural diversity as it denies the ability and opportunity to societies with other cultures to contribute to the design of a liberal world order. And a full list of human rights may not be sufficient to promote the well-being of individuals of other societies without taking into account their distinct cultures.

(457 words)

Bibliographical Information:


School:The University of Hong Kong

School Location:China - Hong Kong SAR

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:pogge thomas winfried menko criticism and interpretation rawls john 1921 social justice poverty moral ethical aspects human rights cosmopolitanism


Date of Publication:01/01/2004

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