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Justice, Injustice, and Critical Potential Beyond Borders: A Multi‐Dimensional Affair

Journal of Applied Philosophy

Published online on


Until fairly recently, positions within the global justice debate have been quite polarised along the statism/cosmopolitanism dichotomy. Recently, the dichotomy has been challenged (although somewhat unsystematically), but the idea that the proximity of a view to cosmopolitanism also tracks its critical potential in political terms has not. This article rejects this premise. In order to do so, it also provides a novel, more systematic challenge to the statism/cosmopolitanism dichotomy. The main suggestion is that we should consider two aspects simultaneously, and identify positions within the debate on the basis of how they relate to both of these. First of all, participants in the debate can make three different kinds of claims, which I shall call moral, political, and institutional. Secondly, views position themselves within a spectrum in each of the three dimensions, rather than deciding between cosmopolitanism and statism – and at different at different points of the spectrum with regard to their moral, political, and institutional commitments respectively. This account gives us a better grasp of what taking a stand in the global justice entails. Crucially, it enables us to understand that the transformative and critical potential of a specific view depends on a variety factors, and not only on its stand at the moral level. One can be fairly critical of the status quo without endorsing a cosmopolitan, or even nearly cosmopolitan, moral outlook. In short, the moral story is not the whole story.