Different Perspectives on Global Justice: Fusion of Horizons

Frank Abumere

LUISS Open Access. Apr 2015 [Link]

Supervisors: Sebastiano Maffettone (LUISS) & Andreas Vasilache (Bielefeld Univ.)


When he was asked where he came from, Diogenes of Sinope (404 - 323 B.C.) famously declared: “I am a citizen of the world.”1 The Cynic’s declaration resonates with our intensively and extensively globalised world. Just as it was important whether a person sees him/herself as primarily a citizen of a particular polis or a citizen of the universal cosmopolis during the Cynic’s time, so also it is important – if not even more important – whether we see ourselves as primarily members of a state or the global society today.

This dissertation is aimed at delving into the debate on global justice. There are many ways to deal with the issue of global justice. I have chosen one way; to focus on cosmopolitanism contra statism in relation to resource curse with a view of arriving at a fusion of horizons. Essentially, cosmopolitanism and statism are attempts by political philosophers to set moral standards for our world. In our world today, there is need to set standards of behaviour in certain essential aspects of life. Standards are indispensable because the consequences of lack of standards are frighteningly negative.

Imagine a world without standards. I am of the opinion that a world without standards will end up in self-destruction. Without standards we will not be able to live together in harmony since there will be no common ground for the harmonization of our interests. Consequently, to use Hobbes’ nuance, we will go back to the state of nature where it is the war of all against all. But it is not enough to have standards; those standards have to be just. For unjust standards could as well pitch us against one another thereby we will find ourselves yet in some form of state of nature.

So, if standards are indispensable, just standards are even more indispensable. Just standards, supposedly, will make the world a peaceful place and the earth a better place for its inhabitants. This is why I am delving into the subject matter of this dissertation. For me, this is an endeavour to look at some aspects of global justice in terms of what they are and then proffer solutions as to what they ought to be. What I hope to achieve with this dissertation is to convince some of my readers that whether we are cosmopolitans or statists, it is possible for us to be globally just at least to some reasonable extent.

This dissertation is divided into an introduction, six chapters which are further divided into sub-chapters, and a conclusion. The introduction introduces the subject matter of the dissertation and presents my position on the subject matter. The first chapter discusses the theoretical and conceptual differences between cosmopolitanism and statism, and discusses the methodological approach that will be used in the dissertation. The second chapter is divided into six sub-chapters. The first sub-chapter presents an overview of cosmopolitanism and statism.

The second and third sub-chapters discuss the views of two statists namely John Rawls and Thomas Nagel. The third and fourth subchapters discuss the views of two cosmopolitans namely Charles Beitz and Thomas Pogge. While the sixth sub-chapter discusses Sebastiano Maffettone’s intermediary position between the cosmopolitan and the statist views.

The third chapter focuses on resource curse. It presents a descriptive analysis of resource curse in general, and then contextualises it in sub-Saharan Africa paying particular attention to the cases of Nigeria, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The fourth chapter, relying on the descriptive analysis in the third chapter, provides a preliminary prescriptive analysis of resource curse. Then the fifth chapter extends the prescriptive analysis by examining the moral relationship between causality and responsibility on different levels in the context of resource curse.

The sixth chapter examines possible arguments against my attempt to fuse the horizons of cosmopolitanism and statism. It reviews my hypothesis, recapitulates the key issues in the dissertation and then summarises the benefits of fusing the horizons of cosmopolitanism and statism. Finally, the concluding part of the dissertation disclaims the notion that my adopted fusion of horizons is a negation of cosmopolitanism and statism, and then reiterates my position on the subject matter of the dissertation.

This project receives funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No 722826.