The Other Side of Obligation: Cosmopolitan Distributive Justice and Duties of the Less Affluent

  • Luis Cabrera
Part of the International Political Economy Series book series (IPES)


Cosmopolitan theorists of distributive justice have rightly given most of their attention to the obligations owed by those in affluent states to those in less-affluent states. Whether calling for direct transfers of resources across borders or, more recently, for some limited transformation of the Westphalian system, cosmopolitan theorists have focused on actions that individuals in rich states should feel compelled to take. In this chapter, I argue in part that strong critical emphasis also should be given to the duties of the global poor. Just as we are concerned with what the relatively fortunate should be asked to surrender of their resources, time and personal energies, we should avoid treating those in recipient states as mere objects of charity by failing to ask what contributions they might make to help improve their own circumstances. An approach is advocated here in which individuals in less-affluent states are viewed as global co-citizens working jointly with those in affluent states to improve economic and political conditions worldwide. Such an approach, I will argue, is consonant with a strong institutional cosmopolitanism, where the duties of all individuals include the promotion of democratically accountable economic and political integration between states in order to improve the life chances of the less-affluent globally.


Distributive Justice North American Free Trade Agreement Ordinary Citizen Affluent State Southern African Development Community 
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© Luis Cabrera 2005

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  • Luis Cabrera

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