Rigorist cosmopolitanism: A Kantian alternative to Pogge

Shmuel Nili*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


What counts as global 'harm'? This article explores this question through critical engagement with Thomas Pogge's conception of negative duties not to harm. My purpose here is to show that while Pogge is right to orient global moral claims around negative duties not to harm, he is mistaken in departing from the standard understanding of these duties. Pogge ties negative duties to global institutions, but I argue that truly negative duties cannot apply to such institutions. In order to retain the global force of negative duties, we need to dissociate these duties from global institutions: each society's negative duty to stop harming specific other societies ought to be seen as independent of global institutional change. In order to establish this thesis, I criticize both the features and the derivation of Pogge's variant of negative duties. I conclude that one must see global negative duties as applying to the relations between specific sovereign societies as unitary agents rather than to global institutions. I then show how this view of negative duties can yield significant global reform, based on Pogge's own accusations concerning democracies' conferral of trading privileges upon dictators who embezzle state resources. After presenting the normative, empirical, and strategic advantages of such reform, I anticipate Poggean objections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)260-287
Number of pages28
JournalPolitics, Philosophy and Economics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2013


  • Global justice
  • Thomas Pogge
  • global reform
  • international institutions
  • negative duties

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics


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