Both philosophical and practical analyses of global justice issues have been vitiated by two errors: a too-high emphasis on the supposed duties of collectives to act, and a too-low emphasis on the analysis of causes and risks. Concentrating instead on the duties of individual actors and analysing what they can really achieve reconfigures the field. It diverts attention from individual problems such as poverty or refugees or questions on what states should do. Instead it shows that there are different duties for political leaders, intelligence operatives, opinion leaders and citizens in devising, urging and implementing such plans as transfers of aid with accountability, military interventions in rogue states and limited intakes of refugees. With collectivist excuses for inaction such as sovereignty out of the way, it is possible to take a cautiously optimistic view of the possibility of forceful and morally responsible interventions in the range of major global problems.

About the Author

James Franklin is Professor of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of New South Wales