Global justice and global realities

Shmuel Nili*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Should global political theory “get real,” focusing on real-world moral failures? I argue that, insofar as we think it important to reflect on global morality in a world of separate states, the answer is yes. In the article’s first stage, I set up the argument by suggesting that our only convincing reasons to reject the idea of a world state are non-ideal— these reasons concern failures to comply with moral duties, rather than ideal visions of a perfectly just world of full compliance. Therefore, any theory assuming a world of separate states must itself be a non-ideal theory focusing on compliance failures. In the article’s second stage, I contend that this necessary focus should lead global political theorists to make more use of social-scientific knowledge than they typically do, while recognizing the structural obstacles confronting global social science. In the article’s third stage, I indicate some under-studied normative implications of these obstacles, tying the debate on ideal and non-ideal global theory to other methodological questions in global political philosophy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)200-216
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of International Political Theory
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2016


  • Global justice
  • Global reform
  • Ideal and non-ideal theory
  • Natural resources
  • Political economy
  • Political philosophy and social science

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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