Volume 30, Issue 1, Spring 2016
Duties to the Global Poor and Minimalism about Global Justice
This paper is about the implications of a common view on global justice. The view can be called the Minimalist View, and it says that we have no positive duties to help the poor in foreign countries, or that if we do, they are very minimal. It might seem as if, by definition, the Minimalist View cannot require that we do very much about global poverty. However, in his book World Poverty and Human Rights, Thomas Pogge pointed out that this conclusion is at least up for debate. Although Minimalism countenances very few positive duties to the global poor, it certainly countenances negative duties not to harm. Perhaps one can argue that these negative duties are somehow being violated, and thus even a Minimalist must make substantial compensation to the global poor. However, in this paper I argue that Pogge’s argument about Minimalism does not succeed. The second half of the paper offers ways to revise and improve the argument in order to make the case for assistance to the global poor.