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  • Cited by 1
  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: August 2010

Responsibility and Global Justice: A Social Connection Model



In this essay, I clarify the status of claims about global justice and injustice that are increasingly voiced and accepted in our world. Such claims present a problem for political philosophy because until recently most philosophical approaches to justice assumed that obligations of justice hold only between those living under a common constitution within a single political community. I will argue that obligations of justice arise between persons by virtue of the social processes that connect them; political institutions are the response to these obligations rather than their basis. I develop an account of some of these social processes as structural processes, and I argue that some harms come to people as a result of structural social injustice. Claims that obligations of justice extend globally for some issues, then, are grounded in the fact that some structural social processes connect people across the world without regard to political boundaries.

The second and more central project of this essay is to theorize about the responsibilities moral agents may be said to have in relation to such global social processes. How ought moral agents, whether individual or institutional, conceptualize their responsibilities in relation to global injustice? I propose a model of responsibility based on social connection as an interpretation of obligations of justice arising from structural social processes. I begin, in Section II, with an examination of various views on the extent of obligations of justice.