Encyclopedia of Global Justice

2011 Edition
| Editors: Deen K. Chatterjee

Global Difference Principle

  • Mark C. Navin
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-9160-5_10

The difference principle is part of one of John Rawls’s principles of justice for domestic society. It requires that inequalities (e.g., of wealth or income) that arise from social cooperation be to the advantage of the worst off members of society. A global difference principle is an application of the difference principle to the institutions and practices of international society. Various political philosophers have advocated a global difference principle. Their proposals have received significant critical attention only very recently.

The difference principle states that inequalities in the distribution of social goods like wealth and income are morally permissible as long as they are to the advantage of the worst off. The main idea is that relative disadvantages are just when they provide absolute advantages to those who are relatively disadvantaged. Importantly, Rawls limits the scope of the difference principle by two other principles of justice: (1) Equality of the basic...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark C. Navin
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyOakland UniversityRochesterUSA