The Global Justice Gap

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The ‘global justice gap’ refers to the state of affairs in which the just entitlements of the global poor do not correlate with the justly enforceable duties of the global rich. The possibility of a global justice gap is controversial, because it is widely thought that claims of justice cannot exist unless they are matched up with corresponding duties. In this essay, I refute this sceptical view by showing that the global justice gap is indeed a theoretical possibility. My strategy is to argue for a particular way of understanding the concept of distributive justice which I call the ‘dual component model of justice’. On this view, distributive justice is a single value with two distinct components: (1) a fairness component, which specifies the situation that people would be in if they lived under conditions of what I call ‘basic distributive fairness’, and (2) a legitimacy component, specifying the rights that people have according to what I call the ‘principles of justified coercion’, which limit the ways in which they may permissibly be coerced. The global justice gap arises when the two components
of justice are not in alignment. This happens when, although it is within the collective capacity of the members of the developed world to bring the global distribution much closer to the ideal of basic distributive fairness, there are considerations that make it unjust to coerce them into exercising this capacity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)574-590
Number of pages17
JournalCritical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy (CRISPP)
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2016


  • Global Justice; Justice Gap; Distributive Justice; Two Standpoints; Nagel; Miller


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