Earthly Goods: Environmental Change and Social Justice

By Fen Osler Hampson; Judith Reppy | Go to book overview

2
Concepts of Community
and Social Justice

WILL KYMLICKA

IF we are to tackle global environmental issues effectively we will need a theory of distributive justice in international relations. 1 The development of such a theory involves a break with traditional Western political theory, which has generally viewed international relations as a Hobbesian "state of nature." Norms of justice are seen as inapplicable in such a state, because there is no mechanism or institution (such as a sovereign authority) to ensure that moral actions are reciprocated. Several commentators, however, have shown that this position cannot be sustained without invoking a more global moral skepticism, one that would equally apply to domestic justice. 2

Any plausible conception of international justice must include a number of different elements. For example, it will have to reconcile the sometimes competing demands of economic development and environmental preservation. On the one hand, countries in the Third World claim a right of development, including the transfer of re-

____________________
For helpful comments and suggestions regarding an earlier draft, I thank Jean Daudelin, John Russell, Susan Donaldson, and Laura Purdy.
1
Robert Goodin, " International Ethics and the Environmental Crisis," Ethics and International Affairs 4 ( 1990): 91-105.
2
See, for example, Charles Beitz, Political Theory and International Relations ( Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979), part I, and Marshall Cohen, " Moral Skepticism and International Relations," in International Ethics, ed. Charles Beitz ( Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985). It may be true that certain norms of justice require international coordinating mechanisms that do not yet exist.Still, the absence of such mechanisms is not a reason to ignore justice—rather, it gives rise to a duty to create the necessary institutions. Henry Shue, " Mediating Duties," Ethics 98, no. 4 ( 1988): 687‐ 704.

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