Volume 51, 2018
Philosophy of Globalization
D. Miller on our Responsibility to the Global Poor
I want to discuss D. Miller’s arguments concerning our responsibility to secure the basic human rights everywhere in the world. His arguments are very interesting because he tries to balance two perspectives to see human beings. First, as needy and vulnerable creatures, we need certain items or conditions in order to have minimally decent human lives. Without those items or conditions, we are harmed. Second, as choosing agents, we are responsible for the consequences of our actions. In the first half of the paper, I describe Miller’s arguments. Our basic needs give rise to basic human rights. So when somebody is denied basic human rights, it imposes upon the rest of us a responsibility to restore them. This is a demand of justice. So, at first Miller appears to advocate a strong claim of our responsibility to help the global poor. But he considerably weakens this responsibility. How? First, he thinks that the deprivation of basic human rights is largely brought about by people of poor developing countries. So, we do not owe a primary responsibility to fulfil their basic human right. Second, there is a justice gap between what poor people in developing countries can claim as a matter of justice and what we are obliged, as a matter of justice, to sacrifice. So, in the end we are demanded to offer humanitarian aids only. In the second half, I develop the three problems I find with Miller’s arguments.