Category Archives: 3020_2016: Global Justice

Prompt 4 (3020: Global Justice 2016)


Who Should Bear the Costs of Climate Change?

Anthropogenic climate change is occurring.  The science overwhelmingly confirms it, and scholars of climate justice (like Caney, Bell, Vanderheiden, Shue, etc.) treat this as starting assumption.  These scholars vary in the cosmopolitan accounts of justice they endorse (e.g., rights-based theories v. distributive theories) and, thus, they disagree about what specific obligations of justice we have to those beyond our national borders, but they all agree that climate change poses difficult moral problems that need to be addressed.  Who is causally and morally responsible for the effects we now see of global warming: rising sea levels and the salinization of freshwater sources or the displacement of island peoples; severe weather events (e.g., droughts, heat waves, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.) and natural disasters (e.g., floods, forest fires, etc.) and the damage to private property and economic losses to agricultural industries; heightened public health threats from vector borne diseases (e.g., Zika virus), and so forth?  Who bears the costs of these effects: that is, how are these costs distributed?  Who should bear the costs?  What will the lasting effect be to future generations: are these consequences morally problematic?  What vulnerable groups are at higher risk of being harmed, and what would a just distribution of the costs of climate change look like?  These are some of the diverse broad questions that scholars of climate justice explore.

QUESTION PROMPT:
In thinking about the limitations of the “polluter pays principle” (e.g., establishing causal responsibility), about the principle of “common but differentiated responsibility,” and about the problems of absolving emitters who were ignorant of the effects of their greenhouse gas emissions of their liability to bear the costs of their (historic) emissions—ideas that Caney (2006) and Bell (2011) discuss at length—how do you believe the effects of climate change should be distributed: which is to say, who should bear the costs, and why?  In answering this question, you must make your starting assumptions clear by briefly explaining the specific conventional or cosmopolitan account of justice you base your argument on (this will require you to draw on previous course material), and you must also discuss one real-world example that illustrates the conclusion you defend.

PLEASE NOTE: with these sorts of normative questions that we’ll be engaging throughout the semester, where there is no clear right or wrong answer, you must do more than merely state your opinion.  This would fundamentally fail to satisfy the expectations of these thesis-driven and evidence-based writing assignments.  Your task is to take a stand on the issue and to defend this position by writing an educated and informed response, incorporating specific ideas from the readings that support your thesis.

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Prompt 3 (3020: Global Justice 2016)


What Are Our Duties to Eliminate Resource Inequalities?

Political theorists like Beitz (1979), Singer (1972), Shue (1996), and Caney (2005) (see chapter 4 in Caney 2005) defend various arguments in support of global resource redistribution—emphasizing the relevance of economic interactions and interdependence between wealthy and poor nations, or the ability to assist those in need, or the fundamental right of all to basic subsistence, or some combination of these.  Each author claims that achieving more equitable distributions is not a matter of charity or benevolence, but of moral obligation.  If true, this would mean that citizens and governments of wealthy countries do wrong by the world’s poor when they fail to forfeit a fair portion of their resource shares.  Young (1991), who is sympathetic to distributive justice insists that there is more to justice than simply achieving an equitable distribution of material goods, and she is highly critical of conventional accounts of distributive justice.

QUESTION PROMPT:
Thinking about the diversity of arguments for resource redistribution and Young’s critique of these accounts, do you believe we have a duty to eliminate global resource inequalities?

In answering this question, (a) you must incorporate the writings of two of the authors noted above (in addition to your external sources), (b) you must explain how unequal access to resources can lead to other morally problematic forms of inequality, (c) you must defend what obligations we have—if any—to eliminate these inequalities, and (d) you must discuss one real-world example that illustrates your conclusion.  If your claim is that we have no such obligations, then you still need to satisfy (a), (b), and (d) in developing your argument against the conventional accounts above.

PLEASE NOTE: with these sorts of normative questions that we’ll be engaging throughout the semester, where there is no clear right or wrong answer, you must do more than merely state your opinion.  This would fundamentally fail to satisfy the expectations of these thesis-driven and evidence-based writing assignments.  Your task is to take a stand on the issue and to defend this position by writing an educated and informed response, incorporating specific ideas from the readings that support your thesis.


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Prompt 2 (3020: Global Justice 2016)


Should Undocumented Immigrants be Deported?

Contrasting the exodus of refugees in Syria, the United States, too, has witnessed “one of the largest peacetime outflows of people” in recent history (Economist 2014)-deporting record numbers of undocumented immigrants (exceeding 400,000) in recent years (Pew Research Center 2013).  This is especially concerning to some because many of the immigrants crossing our borders are unaccompanied minors (New York Times 2014), because many undocumented immigrants-from refugees from the Middle East and North Africa (National Geographic 2015) to those from Central America-flee their countries to escape rampant violence and severe poverty (Washington Post 2016, Pew Research Center 2014), because unauthorized immigrants have children while in the U.S. and deportation threatens to tear families apart (Huffington Post 2014), and because many immigrants accept grave risks for the promise of a better life (New York Times 2016, Guardian 2015).

Not only have status quo immigration policies fueled black-market smuggling networks and growing animosity toward immigrants of racial, cultural, and religious minorities (regardless of their legal status), but some (like Carens 2008) have argued that our current immigration policies toward undocumented immigrants violate fundamental rights.

QUESTION PROMPT:
In thinking about the contrasting claims Carens (2008) and Walzer (1983) draw about the rights of migrants, and also about the contrasting conclusions defended in the majority and dissenting opinions in Plyer v. Doe (1981), what do you believe the rights of undocumented migrants are?  Should immigrants who are unlawfully living in the United States be subject to deportation?  In answering this question, you must discuss one real-world example that illustrates your conclusion.

PLEASE NOTE: with these sorts of normative questions that we’ll be engaging throughout the semester, where there is no clear right or wrong answer, you must do more than merely state your opinion.  This would fundamentally fail to satisfy the expectations of these thesis-driven and evidence-based writing assignments.  Your task is to take a stand on the issue and to defend this position by writing an educated and informed response, incorporating specific ideas from the readings that support your thesis.

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Prompt 1 (3020: Global Justice 2016)


What Does Global Justice Require of Us?

One of the central debates in global justice scholarship concerns who we owe obligations of justice to.  Some political philosophers (e.g., Rawls or Dworkin) argue that principles of justice only “apply within the boundaries of a sovereign state” (Nagel 2005: 121-2).  If correct, this would mean that issues of global poverty, disproportionate global resource distribution, effects of climate change and transnational environmental disasters, civil wars and genocidal violence, the exodus of refugees, and so forth, all fall beyond the purview of justice.  While we may have certain weaker responsibilities to foreigners, this perspective implies that we commit no injustice, for instance, by failing to help those in other nations who need our assistance, or by perpetuating some status quo that disadvantages some people in other countries (e.g., contributing to the current global trade in electronic waste).

Those who deny this (e.g., Caney, Nagel, Young) maintain to the contrary that the geopolitical boundaries of nations do not constrain our obligations of justice.  According to this “cosmopolitan” perspective, we have duties to foreigners around the globe, and when we fail to show foreigners the regard we owe our fellow citizens, we do them wrong—we commit an injustice.  This is to say, for instance, that to help those in other nations who need our assistance, or to eliminate some status quo that disadvantages some people in other countries, is not a matter of charity or benevolence or choice: it is our obligation.

QUESTION PROMPT:
In thinking about this divide in the literature, do you agree with Nagel’s claim that “Justice as ordinarily understood requires more than mere humanitarian assistance to those in desperate need, and injustice can exist without anyone being on the verge of starvation” (Nagel 2005: 118)?  Why or why not?  What would you say global justice requires of us?  In answering this question, you must discuss one real-world example that illustrates your conclusion.

PLEASE NOTE: with these sorts of normative questions that we’ll be engaging throughout the semester, where there is no clear right or wrong answer, you must do more than merely state your opinion.  This would fundamentally fail to satisfy the expectations of these thesis-driven and evidence-based writing assignments.  Your task is to take a stand on the issue and to defend this position by writing an educated and informed response, incorporating specific ideas from the readings that support your thesis.

7 Comments

Filed under 3020_2016: Global Justice