Edited by Sarah Joseph, David Kinley and Jeff Waincymer
Chapter 6: International Economic Justice: Is a Principled Liberalism Possible?
6. International economic justice: is a principled liberalism possible? Patrick Emerton Ted Honderich writes: What is a good life? For a start, a good life is one that goes on long enough [. . .] Some people, because of their societies, have average lifetimes of about seventyeight years. Some other people, because of their different societies, live on average about forty years [. . .] [M]any people in the second group, those people who pull its average down to forty [. . .] have half-lives at best [. . .] The first group are in fact the populations of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Denmark and Japan. The second group are the populations of the African countries of Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Sierra Leone.1 Honderich’s figures are drawn from the The World Guide 2001–2002. The figures in the 2005–2006 edition show that those in the first group have average life expectancies of 78.6 years, those in the second group 36.2 years.2 Less than half-lives. Radical differences in life expectancy are not all there is to this radical inequality; Thomas Pogge, for example, draws our attention to the obvious cause of half-lives, and of much other suffering as well, namely, extreme poverty.3 Whatever facts we take to best exemplify this inequality, such human suffering is plainly a matter of deep moral concern. But a consideration of life expectancies, or of inequalities of wealth and income, does not tell us exactly how, at the intellectual level, we should understand the problem in relation to 1...
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