Does Global Justice Require More than Just Global Institutions?

  • Kok-Chor Tan University of Pennsylvania, USA


The ‘institutional approach’ to justice holds that persons’ responsibility of justice is primarily to support, maintain, and comply with the rules of just institutions. Within the rules of just institutions, so long as their actions do not undermine these background institutions, individuals have no further responsibilities of justice. But what does the institutional approach say in the non-ideal context where just institutions are absent, such as in the global case? One reading of the institutional approach, in this case, is that our duties are primarily to create just institutions, and that when we are doing our part in this respect, we may legitimately pursue other personal or associational ends. This ‘strong’ reading of our institutional duty takes it to be both a necessary and sufficient duty of justice of individuals that they do their part to establish just arrangements. But how plausible is this? On the one hand this requirement seems overly inflexible; on the other it seems overly lax. I clarify the motivation and context of this reading of the institutional duty, and suggest that it need not be as implausible as it seems.


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How to Cite
Tan, K.-C. (2016) “Does Global Justice Require More than Just Global Institutions?”, De Ethica, 3(1), pp. 19-31. doi: 10.3384/de-ethica.2001-8819.163119.