Critical Perspectives on Global Justice: Thinking Beyond Distribution

Centre for Ethics, University of Toronto, October 19-20, 2012

A workshop funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, with supplemental funding from the Canada Research Chair in Ethics and Global Social Change (Department of Philosophy, University of Guelph).

Discussions of global justice in contemporary political philosophy are currently dominated by a distributive paradigm, which holds that the solution to injustice is a more equitable sharing of resources and opportunities. This approach has fostered debates over the design of just transnational economic and political arrangements, over patriotism, and over the duties that citizens of affluent countries should assume.  Important as these debates are, the understanding of global justice that can be attained through them is restricted by the parameters of the distributive model. This workshop aims to think beyond the distributive view of the problems and solutions of global justice, and particularly to consider aspects of injustice that are not readily susceptible to redistribution per se, such as North-South economic and political power inequalities. The workshop is organized by Monique Deveaux (University of Guelph) and Kathy Walker (Université de Montréal / University of Toronto).

The distributive model makes a number of assumptions: it takes Western and European countries as the potential agents of a more just world order, the global south as subjects or recipients; it identifies justice with material equality; it focuses on individuals and discreet nations neglecting issues of interdependence; it does not question capitalist modes of production and ownership; and, it obscures the salience of relationships of power and domination. This workshop aims to examine these assumptions, illuminating how they limit the reach of the distributive paradigm. In addition, the workshop hopes to offer new ways of conceptualizing global justice, including approaches that focus on recognition, non-domination, Marxism, care ethics, and third world perspectives.

This workshop is devoted to work that approaches global justice with alternate, more critical models than the dominant approaches of (variants of) cosmopolitanism, global luck egalitarianism, Utilitarian arguments for aid, and so forth.  It seeks to engage normative and empirical work, drawing together scholars from philosophy, political science, law, sociology, and gender studies.  By broadening the scope of issues deemed relevant to global justice, this workshop welcomes papers that touch on historical injustice, land claims, interdependence, discourse, inclusion and exclusion, and power and knowledge. In so doing, it aims to expand and reform the very questions of global justice, while bringing fresh perspectives to the question how the ideals of global justice can be realized.


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