Political membership and the demands of global justice

Cristian Pérez Muñoz
Political membership and the demands of global justice


Political membership and the demands of global justice

Cristian Peérez Muñoz*

Department of Political Science, Washington University, St. Louis, USA

Published: 27 February 2012

Citation: Ethics & Global Politics, Vol. 5, No. 1, 2012, pp. 57–69. DOI: 10.3402/egp.v5i1.14926

©2012 C. Peérez Muñoz. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/), permitting all non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

*Correspondence to: Cristian Pérez Muñoz, Department of Political Science, Washington University, St. Louis, USA. Email: cperez@wustl.edu


Political membership refers to the condition of being a member of a particular political community. It is a relational concept by virtue of the fact that it presupposes a political relation shared by several individuals. Thus, a simple way to think about political membership is in terms of the rights and duties common to all full members of a specific community that it enforces. Those privileges and obligations are commonly delimited by political boundaries which regulate the relations among members and aliens.1

Although the idea of political membership has an attractive simplicity with intuitive appeal, it has enormous and complex implications. Traditional notions of political membership have been challenged in the context of the recent debates on global justice, immigration, transnational citizenship, and multiculturalism.2 For instance, in the context of global justice debates, frequent questions are considered to determine what, if any, citizens of wealthy countries owe to the citizens in the developing world, or to understand why we may (or may not) have special obligations to compatriots. These questions are unavoidable in any attempt to explain why we may have duties of transnational or global justice.

This essay examines the implications of political membership in relation to issues of global justice in two recent books on global justice, Richard Vernon's Cosmopolitan Regard and Darrel Moellendorf's Global Inequality Matters. These authors offer interesting and challenging ideas about the role political membership should play in a theory of global justice. Their contractualist approaches to global justice represent two novel ways of identifying the duties of justice owed to both compatriots and non-compatriots. In this essay I attempt to show and explain why Moellendorf's and Vernon's commitments to global justice may be undermined by the way in which obligations of global justice are derived from their theories.

The paper is divided into five parts. The first part contains a brief review of Moellendorf's egalitarian theory. The second section develops some criticisms of his proposal. In particular, I try to show why Moellendorf's commitment to global egalitarianism may be weakened by his theory of associational justice. More specifically, it is not evident how his defense of global equality of opportunity can be derived from his egalitarian account, which is based on the notion of membership dependence. I argue that if we accept that membership in a global economic association makes a moral difference, Moellendorf's theory may lead to a scheme of global distributive justice that will be insufficiently egalitarian. Part three is devoted to roughly summarizing Vernon's argument and the following section presents some ideas that challenge his proposal. As much as I can judge, Vernon's approach to justify special obligations to compatriots is problematic given that it is silent on some crucial dimensions and issues of global justice. This can be seen, for example, in the fact that Vernon does not explain what the limits are for excluding people from participating in different risk-taking projects. Finally, the fifth part offers some concluding remarks.


Darrel Moellendorf's new book is an attempt to explain why global inequalities matters. Intuitively, there are many good and complementary reasons to conclude that they matter. For instance, reducing global inequalities could serve as a means for eliminating absolute poverty or as an instrument for minimizing the dominance of poor countries by rich ones.3 Moellendorf suggests that there is a non-purely instrumental reason for arguing that justice requires reducing global inequality. Put briefly, he claims that his criticism of global inequality is not purely instrumental, because it does not ‘derive from the service that reducing inequality plays in realizing other morally important social arrangements although it does rely on other important moral commitments’.4 In particular, Moellendorf argues that global inequalities matters because they affect the inherent dignity of persons and the respect that is appropriate to it.

Generally, his argument can be summarized as follows. Moellendorf believes that respect for human dignity establishes an egalitarian justificatory presumption under the rules of certain kinds of associations and social institutions. A justification of global justice, he says, can sensibly start from a premise of the inherent dignity of persons. This premise is based on the claim that all ‘persons have a special moral status or standing’.5 The reader may wonder how respect for the dignity of persons can lead us to defend an account of egalitarian justice. There are different possibilities for doing that.6 Concretely, Moellendorf suggests that the recognition respect of the inherent dignity of persons implies, among other things, the acknowledgement of people's authority to ‘demand that the use of institutional power that affects them be appropriately constrained and directed’.7

The egalitarian justificatory presumption applies to what he calls a common good association. This is an association that produces goods and powers useful to its members but to which no member has a pre-associational moral entitlement.8 A common good association yields duties of justice because the constraint of justificatory respect requires that institutional rules for assigning the benefits and burdens of a common good association be presumptively egalitarian. The reason for this is that any rule, to promote justificatory respect, must receive the reasonable endorsement of all of those to whom it applies.9 As sources of practical reasons, persons should be able not only to make demands on appropriate power, but they themselves also constitute a reason to constrain institutional powers.

Accordingly, duties of egalitarian distributive justice between non-compatriots are triggered by the demands of justificatory respect applied to certain common good associations. Moellendorf assumes that a common good association is strong, non-voluntary, significant for people's lives, and under the collective control of people.10 He advances a principle of associational justice which holds that ‘duties of social justice exist between persons who have a moral duty of equal respect to one another if those persons are co-participants in an association that meets certain conditions’.11

According to him, duties in virtue of economic institutions, rather than political ones, are egalitarian. Egalitarianism required by justificatory respect is different for political and economic associations. These differences depend on the nature of the goods and powers distributed and affected by these two types of associations. For instance, Moellendorf suggests that the demands of justificatory respect applied to states as political associations serves to realize the ideal of equal citizenship and the rights and privileges associated with it. Political equality, or more specifically equal respect when considering a political association, has sufficientarian distributive implications.12 Although political and economic associations trigger duties of distributive justice, ‘in the case of the political aspects of the association these are sufficientarian, while in the economic they are broadly egalitarian’. 13 The key point here is that ‘citizens must be assured access to sufficient necessary resources such as education, news, income, housing, food, primary healthcare, and leisure to function effectively in the political process’.14

Moellendorf classifies the global economy as a type of common good association. For the sake of exposition, I assume that his characterization of the global economy as a common good association is correct.15 He suggests that duties of egalitarian justice derive from the goods that the global economy distributes and affects. Such duties serve, Moellendorf says, to realize the ideal of reciprocity. What he means, roughly, is that the global economic association is appropriately governed by a normative ideal of reciprocity. As he puts it:

Equal respect for persons in the context of an economic association requires that a principle permitting significant and unchosen inequalities in the life prospects of persons be justified on the basis of reasons that the persons would find reasonable. This is the basis for affirming the moral ideal of reciprocity within the cooperative venture of production.16

Reciprocity between persons cooperating for mutual advantage is only possible if the terms of cooperation are fair and reasonable. This leads him to conclude that global economic association is an independent source of egalitarian obligations. Stated another way, it is the individuals’ membership in global economic institutions that triggers demands of global egalitarian justice.

It is worth emphasizing that Moellendorf defends an ideal of global equality of opportunity. Other things being equal,17 he argues that equality of opportunity at a global level requires ‘equalizing opportunities to possess goods of some specified kind among persons with approximately equal endowments of some specified sort’.18 What is needed for a defense of global equality of opportunity is to acknowledge that justificatory respect is possible only if distributive principles that permit some persons be privileged merely because of their citizenship or nationality at birth are not endorsed. In other words, we should expect that justificatory respect ‘rules out a principle of distribution that permits persons to be privileged merely because of their citizenship or nationality at birth’.19 In the context of a global economic association, equality of opportunity is reflected in a situation where differences in initial condition do not affect the opportunities of persons across a range of goods (income, wealth, meaningful productive activity, leisure time, health, security, housing, education, and basic liberties).20 Thus, his global egalitarian theory is based on the idea that membership matters for determining the scope and site of distributive justice.


Moellendorf expects two kinds of objections against his egalitarian proposal: one from those who believe that only coercive institutions triggers demands of equality,21 and the other from those who argue against the idea that co-membership in a state is a necessary condition for establishing duties of egalitarian distributive justice.22 In this section I will formulate an alternative response to Moellendorf's proposal. I believe it is possible to develop another criticism of his associational proposal. Even if we agree with Moellendorf's idea that duties of egalitarian justice are membership dependent, there are still problems with the way in which he infers those egalitarian principles.

To begin with, his definition of associations is highly empirically sensitive. While it is possible to understand the limits and scope of political membership in a straightforward manner, it is not obvious how we should conceive of the idea of membership in global economic associations. One particular problem is concerned with the distinction between interactions and associations. Like other authors,23 Moellendorf observes that mere interactions do not trigger duties of egalitarian justice. We must note that it is crucial for his argument to clearly delineate this distinction. It is important to recall that according to Moellendorf, duties of social and political justice do not exist between persons in virtue of their mere personhood. That is to say, duties of justice do not exist in the absence of significant interaction. The problem is that it is not easy to distinguish between situations of mere ‘interaction’ and associational ones. Moellendorf himself recognizes that ‘the limit at which an association ends and interaction begins is not always clear’.24 It is trivially true that the global economy involves a complex pattern of interaction. There are benefits and burdens that can only be explained by looking at the interaction between different domestic economies. What is not clear, however, is when some interactions become stronger in a way that can trigger duties of justice.

We can see this point in more detail by considering an example. Let's assume for the sake of argument that there is a global economic association that triggers duties of justice. If reciprocity is one of the elements of justice involved in Moellendorf's egalitarian equation, it may not be clear how different levels of interaction among countries are reflected in the duties and demands of egalitarian justice. Suppose there is a world composed of countries A, B, C, and D. Countries A, B and C maintain a strong economic relation that accounts for an important percentage of their economy. However, country D maintains only a weak economic relation with countries A and B, and these countries benefit from their relationship with D to a much small degree. Suppose also that D is the poorest country. Should country C be obligated to pursue distributive policies toward country D? Moreover, should country C for reasons of reciprocity be concerned only with allocating resources toward A and B? What role, if any, does the principle of global equality of opportunity play in this situation? Does this principle apply to A, B and C requiring that these three countries redistribute towards D, even though almost all of their wealth is attributable to an economic interaction that excludes D? If the answer is that the members of D should obtain the same level of benefits from the global exchange that are obtained by the members of A, B and C, then the associational argument would not play any meaningful role. If not, Moellendorf needs to explain why and how the principle of global equality of opportunity can be applied to a global economic association that includes states with different levels of participation and cooperation in the global economy.

Moellendorf recognizes that the institutions of the global economic association are far from comprehensive. In this sense, he notes that it is ‘simply not possible to take the institutional bearer of the properties of justice and injustice as a single comprehensive system, which if properly designed and managed, could provide all of what distributive justice requires’.25 Accordingly, he suggests that to this failure of institutional capacity there corresponds indeterminacy in the demands of egalitarian distributive justice. For this reason, Moellendorf points out that the ‘content of distributive duties in a partially globalized world is best characterized as indeterminately egalitarian’.26 The ideal content of egalitarian duties will only be possible once the capacity of global institutions increases sufficiently. Thus, his method for claiming an injustice involves first ‘identifying inequalities, second assessing whether these arise between persons whose activities are mediated by some association of the requisite kind, and third considering whether they are excusable in light of one of the four exceptions’ that he identifies.27 But then, if the principle of equality can only rule redistribution of the benefits and burdens derived from certain forms of international economic interaction, it is not evident how that principle can improve the global level of opportunities. Moellendorf's proposal seems to suggest that global egalitarian distributive justice will only be possible once that the range and scope of global economic associations can be expanded. This argument seems similar in spirit to the view that no global distributive justice will be possible without the presence of a global state.28 If we believe that a global economic association is a necessary condition of global egalitarian justice, then given the absence of an extended economic association of that kind, our duties to an important number of distant poor will be essentially humanitarian in nature. Certainly, there are important differences between a global state and a global economic association. Moellendorf could argue that we are closer to living in a global economic association with the characteristics that he describes than to living under the rule of a global state. However, it may be difficult for those who describe themselves as egalitarians to agree with the idea that global inequalities should be globally addressed whenever a global common association takes place. If global inequalities really matter, it can be argued that membership in a global economic association is a very demanding condition for triggering duties of global egalitarian justice.29

Put briefly, the indeterminacy in the demands of egalitarian distributive justice inherent in Moellendorf's membership-dependent theory may obstruct its egalitarian goals. The reason for this is that the principle of associational justice may rule out the possibility of global equality of opportunities. Moellendorf recognizes that ‘the child growing up in Mali has done nothing to deserve her inferior health and educational prospects’.30 However, the principle of associational justice would not account for those inequalities that arise between persons whose activities are not mediated by common good associations. The question then is at what level the commitment to associational justice will be compatible with the commitment to global egalitarianism that Moellendorf calls for.


Richard Vernon has recently developed a novel contractualist account of global justice. His main objective is to find a compelling way to justify compatriot preference while at the same time respecting a cosmopolitan regard. By cosmopolitan regard he refers to the assumption that ‘what happens to everyone is of moral importance’.31 Put more simply, a cosmopolitan regard is an acknowledgment of the moral equality of all peoples and individuals.

Cosmopolitan positions come in many shapes and sizes, however, what makes Vernon's theory interesting is his idea that duties or obligations owed to compatriots and to all other human beings rest on the same basis. That means, according to Vernon, that these two different types of obligations are not in competition or incommensurable with one another. On the contrary, he suggests that we cannot understand our duties to compatriots without recognizing the need for cosmopolitan regard.32 But how can the duties of global justice be placed on the same basis as the duties of citizenship itself?

His argument proceeds as follows: Vernon's view entails that political societies are instruments for reducing certain risks and vulnerabilities among citizens. Accordingly, states not only promote inequalities, but they also serve an important instrumental purpose, namely, the reduction of risks and vulnerabilities among their members. However, national states also enhance vulnerability in certain respects, while in the course of diminishing it in others. Put briefly, while carrying out their purpose of protecting vulnerabilities, states simultaneously limit and extend vulnerabilities, with moral consequences for what should happen within them.33 Considering that political associations also increase risks, it should not be morally problematic that we owe special duties to those with whom we are politically associated. Political societies, Vernon says, will be justifiable to ‘the extent that they offer basic protection to individuals, make power revocable or otherwise anticipate its abuse, shield minorities from the full force of majority will, and adopt social and economic policies that prevent domination by those who hold economic power’.34

Vernon suggests it is this enhancement of vulnerability that explains our special duties to those with whom we share membership.35 This notion of risk makes Vernon's version of contractualism different. Contrary to Rawls's contractualism,36 Vernon does not share the assumption that obligations of justice arising from the domestic version of the contract do not apply to anyone beyond the contracting parties. Rather, he argues that the contractualist argument contains a necessary feature that connects domestic obligations with global ones. He calls this feature ‘Iteration Proviso’. Roughly speaking, the proviso establishes that a group of people can “legitimately set out to confer special advantages upon each other if others, outside that group, are free to do the same in their own case’. 37 In this sense, preferences for compatriots are only justified if other societies have the chance to form other parallel associations to reduce risk. There are two conditions that may justify a special concern to compatriots. First, non-compatriots should genuinely be in a position to distribute special concern among themselves. Second, we should not prevent outsiders from seeking the advantages that we seek in the course of pursuing advantages for ourselves.38

Thus, Vernon's social contract characterization can be understood as ‘a risk-taking project involving sustained hazard’ to protect us against the antecedent risks of a state of nature and against subsequent risks produced by political institutions. Social contract is conceived as a reasonable arrangement that makes possible the reduction of risk over time. More specifically, his revised version of social contract theory can be conceived as ‘one that pictures political society in terms of an implied waiver of background rights, a waiver by virtue of which co-citizens acquire special obligations in return for subscription to an inherently risky project’. 39 What is meant by this is a ‘social waiver’ that responds to antecedent risks and generates subsequent ones. The ‘social waiver’, then, can be understood as a form of domestic social contract which identifies a group that provides reciprocal assurance and which is not morally neutral. Political associations serve as self-enforcement of the background right to liberty that one waives. Taking this line, the ‘social waiver’ explains under what circumstances it is reasonable for people to form exclusive political societies.

Vernon imagines a world made up of different and parallel social projects that are entitled to self-preoccupation, but which at the same time reflect recognition of the respect due to other alternative projects.40 We have, then, obligations not only to those who share with us a particular risk-taking project, but also to the members of others risk-taking projects. The implication to be drawn is that we cannot give weight to the claims of co-national without recognizing at the same time some demanding obligations to outsiders. More or less, if we refuse to attend to the demanding obligations we have to outsiders, then our obligations to those inside our own political society will be undermined too.41 This is because by disregarding our obligations to outsiders we violate the iterative proviso.

Summing up, Vernon believes that cosmopolitan duties derive from his particular model of political obligation. Our obligations to compatriots and non-compatriots are sustained by considerations of political morality. Individuals engaged in a singular project of collective self-determination need to know how that project situates them, morally speaking, in relation to the parallel projects of others.42 Our obligations to non-compatriots should not be conceived as additional or complementary to the obligations that we have to our compatriots. Instead, obligations to both compatriots and non compatriots are based on the same premise. As a consequence, our obligations to the global disadvantaged are fundamentally political ones.


It is easy to see why, on Vernon's view, associative obligations are not self-justifying. We should give preference to compatriots over foreigners not because we are pervasively impacted by the same coercive institutions, or because we share and receive benefits from the same cooperative system. Rather, we should treat our compatriots different than we treat outsiders because we share risks with them. Thus, special concern for compatriots is validated by the fact of shared exposure to risk posed by ‘all other citizens in their social and political behavior, and by the collective institutions established to regulate their common life’.43

However, this elegant approach to the justification of our special obligations to compatriots has some problems that must be overcome, if we are to maintain that cosmopolitan and local obligations are not of different and incommensurable types. The main reason for this is that Vernon's theory is silent on some important dimensions and issues of global justice. For instance, Vernon does not consider in detail the normative problems that appear whenever some individuals want to participate (or may want to participate) in a different risk-taking project than the one they belong to. This can be seen, for example, in the fact that he does not explain how his theory will deal with increasing global immigration and its effects in terms of global justice. It is worth noticing that according to the International Organization for Migration, there are now about 192 million people living outside their place of birth, which is about three per cent of the world's population. That implies that almost one of every 35 persons in the world is a migrant.44 One of the distinctive aspects of the early 21st century is that a larger number of people are on the move today than at any other point in human history. The question is then: how should we evaluate and consider those non-compatriots who want to take part in our risk-reducing project? Similarly, how should we evaluate those compatriots who want to abandon their own risk-taking project?

Vernon does not explain what the limits are for excluding/including people from participating in different risk-taking project. This is problematic in at least one important sense. Here is a simple example to illustrate the problem. Consider a society A that has a particular collective risk-sharing project with cost x. Assume for the sake of the argument that society A is legitimate and just in the sense defended by Vernon.45 Among other things, that means that the members of society A do not interfere in the risk-taking projects pursued by societies B and C. In that situation the members of B and C not only can pursue their own risk-taking projects, but they also do not need assistance from A. But suppose then that the prosperous situation of society A is explained by its comparative advantage in terms of available natural resources. Suppose also that having more available resources helps societies to reduce their risks and vulnerabilities (e.g. because resources can be used to pursue social security). If societies B and C have considerably fewer resources than society A, then the costs of reducing risks and approaching vulnerabilities will be higher in societies B and C. At a minimum, then, if societies must assume different costs for reducing risks and vulnerabilities, the guiding (‘iterative’) idea of conceiving political societies as parallel exercises in self-government is more complex than Vernon suggests.

There are many questions one might ask of Vernon's argument here. A first question is related to the benefit side of his argument. Vernon emphatically rejects the possibility of justifying associative obligations based on what he denominates as a receipt-of-benefits argument.46 He believes that it is a mistake to consider the receipt-of-benefits as the source of obligation because ‘the bare fact of the current receipt-of-benefits cannot justify the exclusion of others from them’.47 However, if different risk-reducing projects imply differential costs, his theory may also lead to the same problem that he identifies in the receipt-of-benefits approaches. Even though society A does not interfere in B's and C's possibilities of pursuing their own risk-sharing projects, it would be difficult to say that B and C have the same opportunities as A for reducing risks and vulnerabilities. Inevitably, the cost of collective risk management will be higher for some societies than for others

This problem is more difficult than one might expect, because it is hard to identify a threshold that stipulates whether or not a particular society has adequate opportunities for pursuing its own risk-reducing project. The choice of a threshold to distinguish between societies with different opportunities and capacities for reducing risk is far from being obvious. Where should be the line drawn? Vernon does not provide a clear response to this question. Even if we conceive of political societies in terms of ‘social waiver’ (or background rights), it is difficult to separate the benefit side of the equation. Vernon observes that receipt-of-benefits arguments deny benefits to outsiders on the grounds that they do not contribute to producing those benefits. But of course, Vernon says, ‘outsiders may wish that they contribute (thus qualifying to receive corresponding benefits) and it is manifestly unfair to justify their non-receipt-of-benefits on grounds arising from the fact we have forcibly prevented them from contributing’.48

Nonetheless, it seems that the same problem arises whenever outsiders are prevented from taking part in a particular risk-sharing project. If immigration affects different risk-taking projects, then it seems Vernon's theory needs an argument to explain how his model of ‘citizens of the world’ will deal with the possibility that the movement of people affects the cost of different projects. Other theories of special obligations provide an answer to this problem.49 But it is uncertain how Vernon will respond to the problem.

He argues that taking part in a risk-reducing project demands that ‘its participants attach special importance to sustaining the arrangements that they share with others’.50 This happens at a point where ‘playing one's part in sustaining the contract will carry with it local duties that do not extend beyond the contractors’ borders’.51 Even though those outside the scheme do not get the benefits derived from that scheme, Vernon argues that ‘the basic moral problem of exclusion here is resolved if we take the continuing requirements of the contract to be subject to the same Proviso as the original contract—‘if others can do so too’’.52 The problem is, again, that Vernon's theory does not provide a clear answer to explain how we should evaluate those individuals who benefit by migrating from one particular risk-taking project to another.

It is worth recognizing that nothing in Vernon's argument calls for equality at the distributive level. In that sense, ‘members of successful societies can justly continue to expend resources more generously on their own behalf than on that of others’.53 However, the simple respect for the parallel social projects of others may be insufficient to promote the stability of the contractual arrangements that Vernon describes. It is reasonable to expect that the differential costs and benefits of alternative risk-taking projects force the boundaries of each particular risk-taking arrangement.


As detailed in the previous pages, Moellendorf and Vernon offer two interesting alternative contractualist ways to understand the role that political membership should play in a theory of global justice.54 In both cases, but for different reasons, the message is the same: membership must be considered in our search for understanding our local and global obligations. On the one hand, Moellendorf defends the idea that whenever individuals are constrained by rules, they are owed a justification of the rules promulgated in their name. He argues that we should base our justification of institutions on the inherent dignity of persons. On the other hand, Vernon invites us to see the world as made up of parallel social projects which are at the same time legitimately entitled to a certain degree of self-preoccupation, but each of which is also based on a respect and recognition of the other projects.

In this paper, I have offered some arguments to explain why the reasons used by Moellendorf and Vernon to build their associative theories of justice can obstruct their own commitment to global justice. Overall, both books are stimulating and original contributions to the growing literature on global justice. They are two good examples of empirically well-informed and normatively sound works. Both Moellendorf and Vernon not only illustrate and draw on numerous empirical examples, but they also offer concrete policy recommendations. These policy proposals are certainly a good topic for another discussion.


I must thank Dan Corrigan for his helpful suggestions and corrections for improvement in this essay.


1. Seyla Benhabib, The rights of others: aliens, residents, and citizens (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 1.

2. The literature on these issues is extensive and still expanding. See for instance: Seyla Benhabib, The rights of others: aliens, residents, and citizens (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004); Allen Buchanan and Margaret Moore (edit), States, Nations and Borders. The ethics of making boundaries (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003) David Miller, National responsibility and global justice (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007). Will Kymlicka and Wayne Norman (edit), Citizenship in Diverse Societies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000); Lea Ypi, ‘Political Membership in the Contractarian Defense of Cosmopolitanism’. The Review of Politics 70, no. 3 (2008): 442–472.

3. Darrel Moellendorf, Global inequality matters (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), 4.

4. Ibid., 5.

5. Ibid., 7.

6. For an alternative justification of this idea see: Simon Caney, Justice beyond borders: a global political theory (Oxford; Oxford University Press, 2006).

7. Darrel Moellendorf, Global inequality matters (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), 8.

8. Ibid., 12.

9. Ibid., 39.

10. As Moellendorf clarifies, ‘an association is strong to the extent that it is enduring, comprehensively governed by institutional norms and regularly affecting the highest order moral interests of the persons associated’ (p.33). An association is non-voluntary ‘to the extent that there is no reasonable alternative to participation in the association ‘(p.33). An association has a significant effect on people's lives when its effects are pervasive. Finally, an association is under the collective control of persons when it is governed by institutional norms that may be subject to human control (p.33).

11. Ibid., 20

12. Ibid., 56

13. Idib, 61

14. Ibid., 56

15. See chapter 3 for his detailed characterization of global economy as a common good association.

16. Darrel Moellendorf, Global inequality matters (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), 16.

17. It is important to note that the claim for equal respect for persons recognizes that there could be morally relevant reasons for diverging from equality. More concretely, Moellendorf identifies four candidates for exceptions: (1) ‘Some persons could deserve to have their interests treated less well because of something they have done to harm the interests of others; (2) some persons could voluntarily consent to lesser realization of their interests or to taking certain risks of this outcome; (3) there might be differences in morally relevant needs requiring more resources to satisfy or (4) offering incentives that produce differential outcomes could benefit everyone in comparison to their condition under equality’ (Moellendorf, p. 53).

18. Darrel Moellendorf, Global inequality matters (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), 69.

19. Ibid., 71.

20. Ibid., 75.

21. For arguments pointing in this direction see: Michael Blake, ‘Distributive Justice, State Coercion, and Autonomy’. Philosophy & Public Affairs 30 (3) (2001): 257–296. Thomas Nagel, ‘The Problem of Global Justice’. Philosophy & Public Affairs 33 (2) (2005): 113–147.

22. See for instance: Charles R Beitz, Political theory and international relations. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999).

23. See for example, Richard Miller, Globalizing justice: the ethics of poverty and power. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010).

24. Darrel Moellendorf, Global inequality matters (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), 33.

25. Ibid., 65

26. Ibid., 66

27. Ibid., 66

28. Thomas Nagel, “The Problem of Global Justice,” Philosophy & Public Affairs 33, no. 2 (March 1, 2005): 113-147.

29. In the context of a global economic association, reciprocity between persons cooperating for mutual advantage exists only if the terms of cooperation are fair and reasonable. But we can then return to a point made over and over again by those who criticize the principle of reciprocity as a principle of justice. The basic question is how can we determine our duties of justice towards those who for different reasons do not participate in the cooperative venture for mutual advantage? Moellendorf admits that it is unreasonable to claim that the principle of reciprocity ‘requires full return at the market rate for individual contributions to the productive effort’ (p.66). But how can we determine the requirements of reciprocity in a global economic association?

30. Darrel Moellendorf, Global inequality matters (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), 13.

31. Richard Vernon, Cosmopolitan regard: political membership and global justice (Cambridge University Press, 2010), 2.

32. Ibid.,10

33. Ibid., 89

34. Ibid., 70.

35. Ibid., 56

36. John Rawls, The Law of peoples (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999).

37. Richard Vernon, Cosmopolitan regard: political membership and global justice (Cambridge University Press, 2010), 104.

38. Ibid., 114.

39. Ibid., 193

40. Ibid., 114.

41. Ibid., 105

42. Ibid., 208

43. Ibid., 62

44. http://www.iom.int/jahia/Jahia/about-migration/lang/en

45. As was already discussed, Vernon believes that the legitimacy and justice of a particular society cannot be evaluated by looking at its domestic institutions. To the Contrary, the iterative proviso tells us that the interest of outsiders needs to be implicitly embedded in the arrangements that political associations make for themselves. At the same time, when a particular state cannot pursue its risk project, other states have the duty (because their legitimacy depends on their contribution to a solution) to assist it. Vernon points out that that assistance should be based on and restricted to three practical endeavors, namely humanitarian intervention, international law and economic justice (international political economy regulated by a global harm principle) (Vernon, p.115).

46. For an argument pointing in this direction see: Andrea Sangiovanni, ‘Global Justice, Reciprocity, and the State’, Philosophy & Public Affairs, 35, no. 1) (2007): 3–39.

47. Richard Vernon, Cosmopolitan regard: political membership and global justice (Cambridge University Press, 2010), 47.

48. Ibid., 47.

49. Thomas Nagel, “The Problem of Global Justice,” Philosophy & Public Affairs 33, no. 2 (March 1, 2005): 113-147.

50. Ibid., 109

51. Ibid., 109

52. Ibid., 109

53. Ibid., 139

54. Lea Ypi, ‘Political Membership in the Contractarian Defense of Cosmopolitanism’. The Review of Politics 70, no. 3 (2008): 442-472.

About The Author

Cristian Pérez Muñoz

United States