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Title: International distributive justice : defending cosmopolitanism
Author: Jones, Charles William Beynon
ISNI:       0000 0001 3592 0163
Awarding Body: London School of Economics and Political Science
Current Institution: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Date of Award: 1996
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This doctoral thesis investigates contemporary disputes about international distributive justice by first outlining a distinctive human rights approach to the issues and then assessing alternative views of various kinds. The thesis is organized in terms of the dispute between cosmopolitans and communitarians on the question of ethics in international political theory. Part One of the thesis, 'Cosmopolitanism,' outlines and evaluates the most significant cosmopolitan theories of international justice. Following an introductory chapter in which the debate is introduced in a general way. Chapter Two focuses on basic human rights. Chapter Three is on utilitarianism, and Chapter Four investigates Onora O'Neill's Kantian approach to international justice. I conclude that the human rights approach, conceptualized in a distinctive form, is the most promising of these alternatives. Part Two of the thesis, 'Communitarianism,' investigates various "communitarian" challenges to the universalist ambitions of the arguments defended in Part One. These challenges are designed to prove that the pretensions of cosmopolitans are illusory, incoherent, overridden by some morally more important considerations, or otherwise wrong-headed. Constitutive theorists maintain that, while there are perhaps good grounds for recognizing the claims of human beings qua human beings, cosmopolitans fail to take proper account of the value of what we might call certain intra-species collectivities, most importantly, sovereign states (Chapter Eight). Relativists hold that justice is subject to community-relative standards that make cross-cultural comparisons impossible. Hence, universal claims to justice make no sense (Chapter Seven). Defenders of nationality base their conclusions on the ethical value of the 'nation,' and sometimes claim that distributive justice can be discussed properly only within the context of a given national community (Chapter Six). Patriots emphasize devotion to one's country as a primary moral virtue, and conclude that such devotion, in practice, amounts to legitimate favouritism for compatriots and, therefore, at least potentially, the denial of some of the claims of non-compatriots. If such a view requires the denial of the full force of human rights claims, then patriotism conflicts with cosmopolitanism (Chapter Five). The argument of Part Two is that, on the whole, the communitarian challenges do not succeed. Nevertheless, there are significant lessons to be learned from the criticisms in each case. The defence of cosmopolitanism is strengthened by exposure to these objections, even though they do not provide any grounds for rejecting the basic human rights claims of individuals.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Human rights