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This essay addresses the questions of whether and how much responsibility for extreme poverty should be assigned to global and domestic institutional orders. The main focus is on whether the global order brings about the existing levels of extreme poverty or merely allows them. By examining Thomas Pogge's recent contribution on this topic, I argue that although he builds a plausible case for the claim that the global order brings about, and not merely fails to prevent, extreme poverty, the moral and empirical complexity of the situation leaves room for doubting his conclusions. I conclude, however, that it is enough that there be a reasonable chance—though not conclusive evidence—that the global order brings about the existing extreme poverty to reduce considerably the moral weight of its privileged participants' appeal to cost when justifying their not taking steps to alleviate extreme poverty.
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Keywords: cost; doing-allowing; domestic; extreme poverty; global; responsibility

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon , Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 2005-01-01

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