HomePhilosophia: International Journal of Philosophyvol. 41 no. 2 (2012)

The World State and Distributive Justice

Aysel Dogan

Discipline: Philosophy, Political Science



Some contend that in the absence of a world state, it is nonsense to speak of the principles of distributive justice. Thomas Nagel is among those who claim that the principles of social justice can only be effectively applied after a world state is established. Nagel supports this claim on the basis of the social contract theory; namely, that a coercive collective authority is necessary to secure obedience to the principles of justice. In this essay, I argue that a world state is neither necessary nor sufficient to fulfill the requirements of social justice among nations. There are good reasons for doubting the efficiency of a world state in satisfying the principles of global distributive justice. Also, there are alternative ways of executing these principles through nation-states on the basis of international agreements or through voluntary international organizations.