From beginner-friendly introductions to classic books on global justice, this page features books to suit any learning style. The best book for you will depend heavily on your preferred learning style and the amount of time/energy you’re willing to spend reading.
It’s also worth noting that it is not a list of personal recommendations. Personal book recommendations tend to be highly subjective, idiosyncratic, and unreliable. This list is part of a collection of over 100 philosophy reading lists which aim to provide a central resource for philosophy book recommendations. These lists were created by searching through hundreds of university course syllabi, internet encyclopedia bibliographies, and community recommendations. Links to the syllabi and other sources used to create this list are at the end of the post. Following these links will help you quickly find a broader range of options if the listed books do not fit what you are looking for.
Here are the best philosophy books on global justice in no particular order.
Global Justice – Jon Mandle
Publisher description: Global justice has become one of the most pressing issues of our time. Whilst half of the worlds population continue to live on less than $2 per day, there are growing demands for a world wheredemocracy, development and security are permanent features in all our lives.
In this new book, Jon Mandle explores the meaning of global justice and provides students with an accessible introduction to the core concepts and debates in the field. Global justice, he explains, requires universal respect for basic human rights. These rights belong to each and every one of us, and they can be used to guide policy-making in areas such as humanitarian intervention, global poverty, and secession.
Political Theory and International Relations – Charles R. Beitz
Publisher description: In this revised edition of his 1979 classic Political Theory and International Relations, Charles Beitz rejects two highly influential conceptions of international theory as empirically inaccurate and theoretically misleading. In one, international relations is a Hobbesian state of nature in which moral judgments are entirely inappropriate, and in the other, states are analogous to persons in domestic society in having rights of autonomy that insulate them from external moral assessment and political interference. Beitz postulates that a theory of international politics should include a revised principle of state autonomy based on the justice of a state’s domestic institutions, and a principle of international distributive justice to establish a fair division of resources and wealth among persons situated in diverse national societies.
The Global Justice Reader – Thom Brooks
Publisher description: The Global Justice Reader is a first-of-its kind collection that brings together key foundational and contemporary writings on this important topic in moral and political philosophy.
- Brings together key foundational and contemporary writings on this important topic in moral and political philosophy
- Offers a brief introduction followed by important readings on subjects ranging from sovereignty, human rights, and nationalism to global poverty, terrorism, and international environmental justice
- Presents the writings of key figures in the field, including Thomas Hobbes, Immanuel Kant, John Rawls, Thomas Pogge, Peter Singer, and many others
Global Justice: Seminal Essays – Thomas Pogge & Darrel Moellendorf
Publisher description: Global Justice is part of a two-volume set (with Global Ethics) that will aid in the study of global justice and global ethical issues with significant global dimensions. Some of those issues directly concern what individuals, countries, and other associations ought to do in response to various global problems, such as poverty, population growth, and climate change. Others concern the concepts that are commonly used to discuss such issues, such as “development” and “human rights.” And still others concern the legitimacy of various phenomena that structure the global scene, such as national borders, the institutions of national sovereignty and self-determination, and attitudes such as nationalism and patriotism. …
The Law of Peoples – John Rawls
Publisher description: This book consists of two parts: the essay “The Idea of Public Reason Revisited,” first published in 1997, and “The Law of Peoples,” a major reworking of a much shorter article by the same name published in 1993. Taken together, they are the culmination of more than fifty years of reflection on liberalism and on some of the most pressing problems of our times by John Rawls.
“The Idea of Public Reason Revisited” explains why the constraints of public reason, a concept first discussed in Political Liberalism (1993), are ones that holders of both religious and non-religious comprehensive views can reasonably endorse. It is Rawls’s most detailed account of how a modern constitutional democracy, based on a liberal political conception, could and would be viewed as legitimate by reasonable citizens who on religious, philosophical, or moral grounds do not themselves accept a liberal comprehensive doctrine–such as that of Kant, or Mill, or Rawls’s own “Justice as Fairness,” presented in A Theory of Justice (1971). …
World Poverty and Human Rights – Thomas W. Pogge
Publisher description: Some 2.5 billion human beings live in severe poverty, deprived of such essentials as adequate nutrition, safe drinking water, basic sanitation, adequate shelter, literacy, and basic health care. One third of all human deaths are from poverty-related causes: 18million annually, including over 10 million children under five.
However huge in human terms, the world poverty problem is tiny economically. Just 1 percent of the national incomes of the high-income countries would suffice to end severe poverty worldwide. Yet, these countries, unwilling to bear an opportunity cost of this magnitude, continue to impose a grievously unjust global institutional order that foreseeably and avoidably perpetuates the catastrophe. Most citizens of affluent countries believe that we are doing nothing wrong.
Thomas Pogge seeks to explain how this belief is sustained. He analyses how our moral and economic theorizing and our global economic order have adapted to make us appear disconnected from massive poverty abroad. Dispelling the illusion, he also offers a modest, widely sharable standard of global economic justice and makes detailed, realistic proposals toward fulfilling it. …
Global Justice: A Cosmopolitan Account – Gillian Brock
Publisher description: Gillian Brock develops a viable cosmopolitan model of global justice that takes seriously the equal moral worth of persons, yet leaves scope for defensible forms of nationalism and for other legitimate identifications and affiliations people have. Brock addresses two prominent kinds of skeptic about global justice: those who doubt its feasibility and those who believe that cosmopolitanism interferes illegitimately with the defensible scope of nationalism by undermining goods of national importance, such as authentic democracy or national self-determination. The model addresses concerns about implementation in the world, showing how we can move from theory to public policy that makes progress toward global justice. It also makes clear how legitimate forms of nationalism are compatible with commitments to global justice. …
The following sources were used to build this list:
University Course Syllabi:
- Global Justice – Washington university in St. Louis
- Global Justice – MIT
- Global Justice – University of Oregon
- Global Justice – Hamilton College
- Global Justice – Ohio State University
You might also be interested in the following reading lists:
- The Best Introductory Philosophy Books
- The Best Introductory Books on Political Philosophy
- The Best Philosophy Books on Justice
Or browse this collection of over 100 philosophy reading lists to find more philosophy book recommendations.
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