Ethics & International Affairs Volume 24.3 (Fall 2010): Review Essays: The Commitments of Cosmopolitanism [Abstract]

Sep 28, 2010

Ten years have passed since the United Nations member states committed themselves to the Millennium Development Goals, central among which are the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger worldwide by 2015. Two recent books, Gillian Brock's Global Justice: A Cosmopolitan Account and Darrel Moellendorf's Global Inequality Matters, serve as timely reminders that progress toward meeting these morally urgent goals has been minimal. Rich with empirical detail, these books bridge the gap between theory and practice in presenting carefully crafted accounts of the obligations we have to non-compatriots and by offering practical proposals for how we might get closer to meeting these obligations.

Among the host of theoretical questions common to the two books are: What commitments are entailed by a cosmopolitan perspective—one that recognizes the equal moral worth and inherent dignity of all individuals? Can the demands of justice be said to apply outside the state, and if so, why? How should global institutions be designed, and who are the bearers of responsibility for their design? What distributive principles would treat all individuals worldwide justly?

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