In The Law of Peoples, John Rawls develops a theory of global justice whose scope and ambitions are quite modest. Far from justifying a global resource distribution principle modeled on the difference principle, Rawls’s theory does not argue for significant redistribution among peoples. This paper focuses on Rawls’s claim that the character and scope of his account of global justice are determined by the constructivist method that he employs to extend political liberalism’s project from the domestic to the global sphere. The principles of an acceptable law of peoples, he argues, are simply those principles that would be selected by rational representatives of peoples from the standpoint of a suitably characterized fair choice position. This paper argues that Rawls’s constructivist method in fact provides support for an account of global justice of greater scope and ambition than Rawls’s Law of Peoples.
Thomas Pogge“Severe Poverty as a Human Rights Violation,” in Freedom from Poverty as a Human Righted. Thomas Pogge (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2007) pp. 11-53 at 12; see Thomas Pogge World Poverty and Human Rights (Cambridge: Polity Press 2002) p. 2.
See Charles BeitzPolitical Theory and International Relations (Princeton: Princeton University Press1979) pp. 141-42; Thomas Pogge “An Egalitarian Law of Peoples” Philosophy & Public Affairs 23/3 (1994): 195-224.
See Thomas Pogge“Do Rawls’s Two Theories of Justice Fit Together?” in Rawls’s Law of Peoplesed. Rex Martin and David Reidy (Oxford: Blackwell 2006) pp. 206-225 at 221-22; Allen Buchanan “Taking the Human Out of Human Rights” in Rawls’s Law of Peoples ed. Martin and Reidy pp. 150-68 at 150; Allen Buchanan Justice Legitimacy and Self-Determination: Moral Foundations for International Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2004).
William J. BaumolEconomic Theory and Operations Analysis (New Jersey: Prentice-Hall1972) pp. 558-62. Rawls explicitly cites Baumol’s account of rules for choice under uncertainty in his argument in A Theory of Justice that the maximin rule should regulate choice in the first original position (TJ 132 n. 18).