Rice University

Events at Rice

Thesis Defense

Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies
Philosophy

Speaker: Elizabeth Hupfer
Doctoral Candidate

Global Distributive Justice: A Structural Approach

Monday, August 7, 2017
3:30 PM  to 5:00 PM

227  Humanities Building


Historically the study of distributive justice—or who is owed fair distributions of benefits—focused on distributions to citizens within nations. In my dissertation, I analyze arguments in favor of distributive justice between nations. I begin by formulating a basic theory of distributive justice which I call “structuralism” in which existing structures in our nonideal world inform the scope of distributive justice. I take there to be two approaches to structuralism: the coercive and the cooperative approach. I reason that the coercive approach (which argues that the scope of distributive justice is determined by the extent of existing coercive systems) does not expand the scope of distributive justice outside of national borders. However, I argue that due to objections facing any version of a coercive approach, a cooperative approach (which argues that the scope of distributive justice is determined by the extent of existing economic cooperation) is a superior theory. After further analysis, I conclude that the existence of globalized trade extends the scope of distributive justice to include justice between nations. Although my conclusion entails a mandate of distributive justice between cooperating nations, not all nations cooperate with each other; thus, my theory of distributive justice must be supplemented by a humanitarian theory based on beneficence that encapsulates all individuals in need.

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