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Humanity or justice?
journal contributionposted on 2011-12-01, 00:00 authored by Stan Van HooftStan Van Hooft
This paper reflects on a critique of cosmopolitanism mounted by Tom Campbell, who argues that cosmopolitans place undue stress on the issue of global justice. Campbell argues that aid for the impoverished needy in the third world, for example, should be given on the Principle of Humanity rather than on the Principle of Justice. This line of thought is also pursued by ‘Liberal Nationalists’ like Yael Tamir and David Miller. Thomas Nagel makes a similar distinction and questions whether the ideal of justice can even be meaningfully applied on a global scale. The paper explores whether the distinction between the Principle of Humanity and the Principle of Justice might be a false dichotomy in that both principles could be involved in humanitarian assistance. It will suggest that both principles might be grounded in an ethics of caring and that the ethics of caring cannot be so sharply distinguished from the discourse of justice and of rights. As a result, the Principle of Humanity and the Principle of Justice cannot be so sharply distinguished either. It is because we care about others as human beings (Principle of Humanity) that we pursue justice for them (Principle of Justice) and the alleviation of their avoidable suffering.