Summary of the debate between Thomas Pogge and Mathias Risse Regarding Our Obligation to the Global Poor
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In the face of media campaigns and political sanctions, the question about whether we owe the global poor assistance and rectification is an appropriate one. Despite television advertisements displaying the condition of the poor and news articles explaining it, the reality is the majority of us, especially in the Western world, are far removed from the poverty that still affects a lot of lives. The debate between Thomas Pogge and Mathias Risse regarding our obligation to the poor questions the very institution we live in. Pogge created a new framework in which the debate developed. He introduced a focus on the design of the institutional global order, and the role it plays in inflicting or at least continuing the severe poverty people are…show more content…
The first of the three arguments is that the global order is unjust in that it imposes on the global poor the lasting effects of historical crimes. Essentially, Pogge argues that our global history is flawed and should not be morally allowed to result in the “radical inequality” we see today. It is based around the idea of someone being harmed when they are worse off than they were before or not as well off as they would have been if they had not been interfered with. Pogge says that the extreme poverty many of the states now suffer from was inflicted from the colonial era and the violence surrounding it. Risse argues that historical data cannot be used as a benchmark for justice because we lack reasonable certainty of what it would have been like had we not interfered. This is because as there is only one world, we have no point of comparison. He concedes that colonialism was violent and perhaps unjust, but that we lack the arguments and certainty that there is persisting injustice from colonialism. Pogge argues that as a consequence it is unsound to attempt to use historical counterfactual analysis and assume that they would have been better off without us. This does not mean it is implausible only that such reasoning should not be used as justification. This challenge is warranted it seems too easy to project and manipulate comparison favourable to your argument when there is no solid point of inference and certainty.
The second argument is that we hold the