This paper argues that a political theory of global distributive justice, as envisaged by neo-Rawlsian cosmopolitans, makes no sense. Political theorists such as Charles Beitz, Thomas Pogge, and Darrel Moellendorf have argued that John Rawls’s egalitarian conception of distributive justice should be applied globally, despite Rawls’s own insistence on its limited applicability to domestic society. Against this position, two main arguments for skepticism about global egalitarian distributive justice are offered. First, the world cannot plausibly be understood in terms of a society in Rawls’s sense, and a Rawlsian global original position cannot generate politically meaningful principles of distributive justice. Second, global distributive justice cannot serve as an achievable goal of international political endeavor within an environment that is, and should remain, anarchic; the utopian world government that it requires seems unrealistic, and in any event is politically undesirable from a liberal perspective. The cosmopolitan ideal of global distributive justice should have no weight in moral reasoning about international political choice.
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