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National and statist responsibility

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This article argues that David Miller's National responsibility and global justice attempts to attribute to nations responsibility that generally properly vests in states. It then sketches a theory of statist responsibility that disregards nations more or less completely, and yet yields a two-level theory somewhat like Miller's, sanctioning important differences between intrastate and interstate distribution. It is only somewhat like Miller's, because the distinction between states and nations is one with a very real difference. Moreover, Miller aims to build up the moral and historical prestige of the nation-state to make it a viable competitor with the claims of universal morality, whereas this article engages in a kind of deflation that teaches us not to expect contingent forms of political organization to instantiate great moral truths. But this results in an account that is perhaps more like his than either one is like cosmopolitanism visions, whether egalitarian or libertarian
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Keywords: global justice; libertarianism; nationalism; responsibility; states

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Political Science, McGill University, Montreal, Canada

Publication date: December 1, 2008

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