Max Weber Programme Working Paper Series
Is the global order unjust? And if so, why? The paper argues that the central question to be asked within the debate on global distributive and economic justice is not whether the global order is characterized by the presence of an (unjust) global institutional structure, but rather whether the conditions that trigger the requirement to establish one obtain. I argue that Rawls’s concept of background justice can be helpful in this respect, for it can show when and under what circumstances the interaction between different agents requires institutional regulation in order to be justified. I contend that, in the global as in the domestic case, there might be a problem of justice when agents (individuals and states) interact against background conditions that are not justifiable (or instance, when their power and bargaining positions are not balanced), and that in such scenarios institutional regulation is required to maintain background conditions fair. The paper then briefly discusses three potential examples of global background justice between state and non-state actors: tax competition, escalating tariffs, and company relocations.