Justice and infrastructure

A. S Hohns, University of Pennsylvania


Urgent global problems such as deprivation, disease, disorder, and dramatic inequality persistently confront our moral sensibilities. Powerful global institutions have recognized the intensity of these problems and have attempted to organize solutions. A careful analysis, however, of the conventional accounts by which the modern world is addressing these challenges reveals that each falls short in making aggregate welfare improvements adequate to halt world suffering. Neither economic growth through globalization nor the efforts of non-governmental assistance organizations nor the commercial strategies of socially responsible investors has been able to spur capital formation sufficient to develop the necessary infrastructure resources to ensure basic survival. To place this crisis in context, I evaluate the scope of the world’s infrastructure shortage and its implications on justice and basic rights. I describe how the present scale of the world’s infrastructure does not ensure the background conditions necessary to reasonably protect autonomy among the citizens of the world. I explore whether there is a duty of assistance to redress this lack of autonomy, and how such a duty might map onto minimal moral standards of justice. I ask whether there exists a moral imperative that implies redistributive allocations of resources and protections to remedy this shortfall and I map out the interconnected and global nature of the world’s institutional financial structure to determine whether institutional participants thereto could be thought to have some special responsibility to defend autonomy. From this normative base, I compare and contrast several popular distributive proposals against a fresh prescriptive strategy debuted here—the Global Infrastructure Approach—situated within the regulatory architecture of the global financial system and designed to overcome some of the principal impediments to adequate infrastructure funding. ^

Subject Area

Ethics|Philosophy|Economics, General

Recommended Citation

A. S Hohns, "Justice and infrastructure" (January 1, 2012). Dissertations available from ProQuest. Paper AAI3509073.