International responsibilities

From utility and humanitarianism to global justice

Authored by: Julian Culp

Routledge Handbook of Development Ethics

Print publication date:  July  2018
Online publication date:  July  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138647909
eBook ISBN: 9781315626796
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter presents several different conceptions of international responsibility for development practice, that is, for rule-governed development activities across national borders. These development activities include bilateral, multilateral, and private aid. More specifically, utilitarian, a humanitarian, and three distinct global distributive justice-based conceptions of international responsibility for development practice are discussed. The utilitarian conception is based on the utilitarian principle that human action and institutions should maximize average or overall utility. The humanitarian conception relies on the more moderate duty of humanity, according to which one should prevent great human suffering if one can do so at small personal cost. Finally, the three different justice-based conceptions draw on statist, globalist, and internationalist theories of global distributive justice; they support the idea that the responsibility to engage in development practice is not just a matter of charity or humanity but rather a concern of global distributive justice.

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