Journal of Applied Philosophy - Early View Articles

Natural Duties of Justice in a World of States

Published online on Feb 08, 2017


The agency objection to applying distributive justice globally is that principles of distributive justice need to apply to the behaviour of a special kind of institutional agent of distributive justice because of the special powers of that agent. No such agent exists capable of configuring cooperative arrangements between all persons globally, and so distributive justice does not apply globally. One response to institutional views of this kind is that they do not rule out Natural Duties of Justice that fall on all of us to bring about institutional agencies capable of global distributive justice. In this article I argue that this move presupposes a particular, teleological, conception of justice whilst institutional accounts most plausibly rest on a non‐teleological one. I provide an argument for favouring the non‐teleological conception. I also show why alternative ways of arguing for global Natural Duties of Justice do not get around this controversy. The debate is at the level of presuppositions about justice, and relying on a partisan conception is question begging.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

10.1111/japp.12264 About DOI

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