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This chapter explores distributive justice and beneficence. Justice involves giving individuals what they are due. Distributive justice governs the distribution of valuable resources and of burdens, and the granting of certain legal rights. Beneficence concerns agents’ duties to benefit other individuals. The chapter highlights distinctions (1) between the ideal and the nonideal and (2) between how institutions should be arranged and how individuals should act. We understand nonideal theory to address what particular actors – both states and persons – should do in the actual world today. Regarding institutions, domestically, we defend a liberal egalitarian view about distributive justice: unchosen differences in individual advantage within a society are prima facie unjust. Globally, we endorse cosmopolitanism: similar principles of justice apply internationally as apply domestically. Regarding individuals’ obligations, we defend moderately extensive duties of beneficence. We argue that national governments should ensure that all their residents have access to affordable health care and that the international community ought to amend the global intellectual property regime that governs pharmaceutical patents.
This volume offers a carefully argued, compelling theory of bioethics while eliciting practical implications for a wide array of issues including medical assistance-in-dying, the right to health care, abortion, animal research, and the definition of death. The authors' dual-value theory features mid-level principles, a distinctive model of moral status, a subjective account of well-being, and a cosmopolitan view of global justice. In addition to ethical theory, the book investigates the nature of harm and autonomous action, personal identity theory, and the 'non-identity problem' associated with many procreative decisions. Readers new to particular topics will benefit from helpful introductions, specialists will appreciate in-depth theoretical explorations and a novel take on various practical issues, and all readers will benefit from the book's original synoptic vision of bioethics. This title is also available as Open Access on Cambridge Core.
Chapter 7 recapitulates how Chapters 3 to 6 demonstrate that charity controllers are subject to a range of duties and mechanisms that ensure some regard be given to both present and future potential benefit recipients but that those duties and mechanisms largely lack a normative benchmark, such as intergenerational justice, to determine the timing of benefit distribution. Chapter 7 thus examines whether intergenerational justice could act as a normative basis for charity controllers’ choices about how to allocate benefits between current and future generations. It also considers the role that efficiency might play in such decision-making. The chapter then investigates the practicalities of attempting to incorporate principles of intergenerational justice into rules that constrain charity accumulation. Both general issues of practicality and specific reform options are considered. The aim is to better incorporate a normative basis for benefit distribution while at the same time protecting the potential benefits from accumulation and retaining consistency with the goals of charity law. Examples are drawn from the United States, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.
In recent years, much public attention has been devoted to the existence of pay discrepancies between men and women at the upper end of the income scale. For example, there has been considerable discussion of the ‘Hollywood gender pay gap’. We can refer to such discrepancies as cases of millionaire inequality. These cases generate conflicting intuitions. On the one hand, the unequal remuneration involved looks like a troubling case of gender injustice. On the other, it’s natural to feel uneasy when confronted with the suggestion that multi-millionaires are somehow being paid inadequately. In this paper, we consider two arguments for rectifying millionaire inequality, clarifying their appeal but also identifying the obstacles that each will have to surmount in order to succeed.
The standard version of sufficientarianism maintains that providing people with enough, or as close to enough as is possible, is lexically prior to other distributive goals. This article argues that this is excessive – more than distributive justice allows – in four distinct ways. These concern the magnitude of advantage, the number of beneficiaries, responsibility and desert, and above-threshold distribution. Sufficientarians can respond by accepting that providing enough unconditionally is more than distributive justice allows, instead balancing sufficiency against other considerations.
Neuroimaging research regularly yields “incidental findings”: observations of potential clinical significance in healthy volunteers or patients, but which are unrelated to the purpose or variables of the study.
This chapter illustrates how the core progressive property tension between guarding against unfair exploitation and avoiding excessive constraint of legislative freedom translates into compensation doctrine. It considers the nature and degree of constitutional protection for security of value that has resulted from the Irish property rights guarantees, including a presumptive entitlement to full compensation for deprivations, and a presumptive lack of entitlement to compensation for regulatory interferences falling short of deprivation. That analysis demonstrates how constitutional property law can combine rule-based and contextual judicial decision-making to generate relatively predictable legal principle. It further illustrates the running theme of judicial deference to political decision-making concerning the mediation of property rights and social justice, since the courts have created space for legislative exceptions to presumptive compensation entitlements to secure social justice.
This chapter contemplates addressing changes in economic distributions within states from the vantage point of international law. It does this by considering the potential of recognising changing economic distributions within states and the adverse effects that flow therefrom as a ‘common concern of humankind’. At the outset, a contemporary conceptualization of the ‘distributive autonomy’ of states is provided in light of recent economic globalization. The process for recognising new common concerns of humankind is subsequently examined and theorised before the paper sets out the potential and utility of recognising a distributional common concern, arguing that the raison d’être for sovereignty, itself a constitutive element of common concerns, is the marshalling of the state in order to enhance the welfare of the individuals in a given society through the provision of peace and stability. The predominant utility of recognising a distributional common concern of humankind, then, would be to rebalance sovereignty in a manner that would place greater emphasis on effectively ensuring the welfare of humankind, something which can be better – or perhaps only – accomplished through international coordination and cooperation, actions which in and of themselves are less likely to occur under conditions of growing economic inequality within states.
My task in this book is to develop a theory of property premised on a conception of autonomy as self-determination or self-authorship, terms that I use interchangeably. In this account, property empowers self-determining individuals to pursue their conception of the good, and this autonomy-enhancing telos legitimizes property and shapes its legal contours. I am not claiming that propertyless individuals cannot be self-determining, but rather that property tends to make an important contribution to personal self-authorship.
Derek Parfit (1942–2017) was one of the most important and influential moral philosophers of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. This Element offers a critical introduction to his wide-ranging ethical thought, focusing especially on his two most significant works, Reasons and Persons (1984) and On What Matters (2011), and their contribution to the consequentialist moral tradition. Topics covered include: rationality and objectivity, distributive justice, self-defeating moral theories, Parfit's Triple Theory (according to which consequentialism, contractualism, and Kantian ethics ultimately converge), personal identity, and population ethics.
Informed consent has been a mainstay of all ethical research guidelines since the 1970s, but the proliferation of field experiments in the social sciences – which include audit experiments, correspondence experiments, canvasing experiments, social media experiments, and information experiments – has brought with it an increasing resistance to procuring informed consent. This essay grapples with the now common practice of denying research subjects an opportunity to voluntarily consent to participate in research. It provides a framework for thinking about virtual consent, a situation in which the researcher consents for participants. Drawing on a Rawlsian thought experiment, I argue that ethical research is that to which a reasonable person, not knowing whether she would be the subject or the scientist, would consent. This type of reasoning provides a way for thinking about potential downstream consequences not just for the individual subject, but also for society writ large. Yet, because virtual consent does not entail voluntary participation, in constitutes a bronze standard, rather than a best practice, for ethics in experiments.
Léon Walras is often assumed, at least implicitly, to be a welfarist on the grounds that his work is generally considered to be the origin of the first social welfare theorems and therefore a forerunner of Pareto optimality. This chapter argues that such a view contradicts the basic foundations of Walras’s economic and social philosophy and especially his conceptions of society and of individuals. If we take seriously Walras’s distinction between “general social conditions” (“conditions sociales générales”) and “specific personal positions” (“positions personnelles particulières”), we can develop an alternative interpretation of his views on welfare, which leads in turn to a different, non-welfarist, conception of the Walrasian view of the state.
This paper addresses a question which is fundamental to the perceived legitimacy of the distribution of resources today: to what extent does unfairness in how assets came to be acquired in the past affect incomes and wealth now? To answer that question requires two things: first, a principle to determine what is, and what is not, a just acquisition of wealth or a just source of income; second, a means of using that principle to estimate what fraction of wealth and income is now unjust. I use a principle put forward by Robert Nozick to provide the first of these things and then use a model of wealth accumulation and economic growth to illustrate its implications for the scale of unfairness today. The greater is depreciation of assets, the higher are saving rates out of labour income and the less important is human capital the more transient are the effects of past economic injustices. I use data on the perceived unfairness of economic outcomes to see if there is any evidence that those features which the model implies should influence the durability of injustice help explain cross-country differences in attitudes towards unfairness.
Some meritocratic defenders of capitalism rely on the principle that cooperators should receive a share of the product commensurate with their contribution. However, such defences of capitalism fail due to a dilemma. Either they rely on an understanding of contribution that arguably will be reflected by the capital-labour split in suitably idealized capitalist economies, but cannot serve as a plausible standard of merit; or they rely on an interpretation of contribution that is a plausible standard of merit, but which won’t tend to be reflected by the capital-labour split in capitalist economies.
This article assesses whether economic injustices that took place in the past still have significant implications for the material welfare of people many years later. That issue is central to the question of how fair is the distribution of wealth and income today. It is also relevant to issues of reparations for past wrongs. I find that in standard neoclassical models of economic growth the lingering effects of injustice from more than 70 years ago are generally small. But effects can last much longer once we allow for impacts of past injustices to be transmitted through human capital accumulation as well as physical capital.
The global food system exhibits dizzying complexity, with interaction among social, economic, biological, and technological factors. Opposition to the first generation of plants and animals transformed through rDNA-enabled gene transfer (so-called GMOs) has been a signature episode in resistance to the forces of industrialization and globalization in the food system. Yet agricultural scientists continue to tout gene technology as an essential component in meeting future global food needs. An ethical analysis of the debate over gene technologies reveals the details that matter. On the one hand, alternative regimes for institutionalizing gene technology (through regulation, trade policy, and intellectual property law) could mitigate injustices suffered by politically marginalized and economically disadvantaged actors in the food system, especially smallholding farmers in less industrialized economies. On the other hand, GMO opposition has been singularly effective in mobilizing citizens of affluent countries against policies and practices that lie at the heart of these same injustices. As part of the roundtable, “Ethics and the Future of the Global Food System,” this essay argues that charting a middle course that realizes the benefits of gene technology while blocking its use in the perpetration of unjust harms may require a more detailed grasp of intricacies in the food system than even motivated bystanders are willing to develop.
The notion of responsibility in international law involves the violation of an international obligation for which a State can be held liable. The concept of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR) however does not squarely fit within the traditional scenario of state responsibility. Primarily based on the notions of equity and justice and premised in particular upon the principle of intra-generational equity, CBDR, as a structuring principle of the international legal order, hinges upon responsibility in its moral dimension. Its application involves the elaboration of differentiated legal standards and commitments according to both responsibilities and capabilities of States. This chapter argues that because it is premised on the notions of equity and justice, the principle of CBDR necessarily calls for a broadening of the understanding of responsibility in international law, yet, it is suggested that, beyond the moral dimension of responsibility that is referred to, CBDR may still impinge upon the assessment of international responsibility in its purely legal dimension and constitute a standard against which a State’s liability will be evaluated.
Rationing health care by ordeals is likely to have different effects on women and men, and on distinct groups of women. I show how such putative effects of ordeals are relevant to achieving gender justice. I explain why some ordeals may disproportionately set back women’s interest in discretionary time, health and access to health care, and may undermine equality of opportunity for positions of advantage. Some ordeals protect the interests of the worse-off women yet set back the interests of better-off women in equal opportunities. I suggest how we can use ordeal design to advance particular aims of gender justice.
The single most important of the conditions for the availability of the exception is that the quotation be ‘compatible with fair practice’. As noted in Chapter 2, it was the introduction of the concept of fair practice that enabled the parties to agree on a quotation exception. Previous attempts to reach an international consensus, which had sought to limit quotation by reference to type of work, extent of taking or purpose had failed to provide a sufficiently flexible criterion. The concept of ‘fair practice’ (or ‘bons usages’) proved the magic solution.
Influential alternative accounts conceive of justice either as broadly applicable but not as stringent as I do or as similarly stringent but not as broadly applicable as I do. Ernst Tugendhat exemplifies the former approach, Immanuel Kant the latter. Their approaches generate an objection to mine: either distributive justice can be defined, as Tugendhat does, in terms of the kind of situation to which it applies and then plausibly applied to a broader range of contexts than my theory proposes, or distributive justice can be defined in terms of its stringency, as Kant does. I argue that it is sensible to limit justice to a narrower range of situations than Tugendhat allows, while thinking of the stringency of justice in such a way that a broader class of cases is covered than Kant allows. This takes us to something like my view.