Injustice to Global Justice

June 11, 2009

In my book Global Justice: A Cosmopolitan Account, I address questions such as: What is global justice? What responsibilities might we have to bring about a more globally just world? What can feasibly be achieved here and now in progressing towards such a world? Would aiming for more global justice undermine other valuable goods, such as authentic democracy or national self-determination? As is her right, your reviewer (Books, 7 May) disapproves of the questions I ask, the approach I take and, apparently, the answers I give.

In criticising my book, your reviewer consistently misrepresents my positions, including frequently attributing views to me that are not mine. Indeed, she does not seem to understand the difference between outlining dominant positions in a debate and endorsing these positions. For instance, she takes me to endorse positions on the causes of poverty on which I take no stand (such as the role of geographical factors) or that I critically discuss at length (such as the thesis that poverty in poor, developing countries is best overcome by integrating their economies into world markets, discussed in chapter nine).

She insinuates that I hold positions on the causes of poverty that are offensive, and as evidence quotes a sentence in which I am describing someone else's position in a different debate seven chapters later. This kind of misrepresentation occurs throughout the review, and the result is very misleading.

Although critical discussion can help to improve ideas, it is hard to see how serious misrepresentation and misunderstanding move debate forward.

Gillian Brock, Associate professor in philosophy, University of Auckland.

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