Paul Wilkens

Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)

Date Information

April 2020


Political Science

First Advisor

Michael Mulnix


In political philosophy, the concept of justice has been historically confined to the domestic state. In the last 50 years theorists have been forced to confront or defend the idea that their comprehensive doctrines say nothing about what the duties and entitlements are for people across state boundaries even though moral worth is not different based on where persons are born. It is within this context that John Rawls formulates a comprehensive theory of egalitarian justice for the domestic state that is explicitly not meant to apply to those outside the state. Opposing this view, cosmopolitans contend that it is morally incoherent to say that justice is bound by the state, even if state boundaries are relevant to the actual pursuit of justice for all persons. In exploring the reasons that Rawls creates tiered, unequal account of what persons deserve for justice, I defend the cosmopolitan foundation that justice applies to all equal persons regardless of the relationships of political association. A two step account of justice is morally incoherent because it relies on equal persons morally deserving certain protections in the domestic state and ignores that principle for persons elsewhere. Yet granting that Rawls claims to not rely on any moral law at all, I explore the implication of putting forward a theory of justice devoid of moral considerations. Political realism is a prevailing conception of the global order that would seem to necessitate amoral global justice and the metaphysical foundation that this doctrine is based on is highly unsettled and problematic.