The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

Defending the duty of assistance?

Armstrong, Chris (2009) Defending the duty of assistance? Social Theory and Practice, 35, (3), pp. 461-482.

Record type: Article

Abstract

Whereas the drive to elaborate principles and practices of global distributive justice is continuing apace in the academy, Rawls's last book The Law of Peoples rejected the very idea of global distributive justice, and recommended instead a 'duty of assistance' towards societies burdened by unfavourable conditions - a concession that was described by many critics as wholly inadequate to the task of addressing global economic injustice.

Recently, though, some more friendly critics (including Samuel Freeman, David Reidy and Mathias Risse) have argued for a reappraisal. Perhaps the duty is a demanding one, which enjoys clear advantages over some accounts of global distributive justice. And relatedly, perhaps The Law of Peoples possesses greater resources for theorising issues of global economic justice than has sometimes been recognised.

This paper evaluates this attempt at rehabilitation. The character of the duty of assistance is set out, and the reasons why it is held to be superior to principles of global distributive justice are briefly canvassed. The supposed advantages enjoyed by the duty are examined, and it is shown that these are far less impressive than has been suggested by both Rawls and some recent defenders of his position. The paper also considers the ways in which the account developed in The Law of Peoples is able to contribute to the theorisation of global economic injustice.

Although the account does provide more resources than has sometimes been recognised, it is argued that as the duty-based account is pushed further on this issue, it becomes still less plausible to claim that it possesses appreciable advantages over various positions on global distributive justice. More pointedly, its supposed advantages turn out to be in tension with each other. As such, if the provision of an adequate position on global economic justice is the goal, the reappraisal of The Law of Peoples may ultimately demand a transcendence of at least some of its key elements.

PDF __soton.ac.uk_ude_PersonalFiles_Users_slb1_mydocuments_New folder_64424.pdf - Accepted Manuscript
Restricted to Repository staff only
Download (210kB)
PDF 64424ARMSTRONG21.pdf - Version of Record
Restricted to Repository staff only
Download (94kB)

More information

Published date: 27 June 2009
Keywords: law of peoples, john rawls, duty of assistance, global distributive justice, trade justice
Organisations: Politics & International Relations

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 64424
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/64424
ISSN: 0037-802X
PURE UUID: b3e2c596-2c10-4d54-a8f3-fc17c3015efe

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 06 Mar 2009
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 14:13

Export record

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton: eprints@soton.ac.uk

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/cgi/oai2

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.

×