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Global Justice and Harm

Zur-Szpiro, ECS; (2015) Global Justice and Harm. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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My thesis explores the question of how we should think of our duties to those worse off than us around the world. I assess ‘the harm approach’ to global justice, which claims that we have duties of justice towards the global poor because we harm them, arguing against it. I first argue that Thomas Pogge puts forward the harm approach without specifying a plausible notion of harm. I then argue that there is no conception of harm in the literature that can support the harm approach. My thesis yields the conclusion that the harm approach fails to fulfil its key aim, which is to break the stalemate between proponents and opponents of the view that principles of distributive justice are appropriate in the global context. I suggest that the misconceived harm approach, and the state of impasse in the global justice debate, highlight the need to reconceive the global justice project. Instead of assessing whether or not our theory of justice for the state extends to the global sphere, our starting point should be the global situation itself. To formulate the most plausible approach to our duties to those worse off than us globally, we should build a theory of global justice based on the moral facts of the global situation and our pre-theoretical convictions regarding it. I first outline Pogge’s harm approach and state its aims. I then point out why the way that Pogge uses the notion of harm cannot support the aims of the approach. I then turn to an investigation of moralised and non-moralised theories of harm in the literature, finding that none can help support the harm approach. The last part of my thesis points towards the direction we should take in building a plausible approach to our duties to the global poor.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Global Justice and Harm
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1469265
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