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What Do Liberal Democratic States Owe the Victims of Disasters? A Rawlsian Account

Journal of Applied Philosophy

Published online on


Is there a principled way to understand what liberal democratic states owe, as a matter of justice, to the victims (survivors) of disasters? This article shows what is normatively special and distinctive about disasters and argues for the view that there are substantial duties of justice for liberal democratic states. The article rejects both a libertarian and a utilitarian approach to this question and, based on broadly Rawlsian principles, argues for a ‘political definition’ of disasters that is concerned with the restoration of citizens' dignity and their capacities for effective citizenship.