Sunday, September 16, 2018

Nationalism 007: "International Problems" Reason for a Global Government

In recent posts, I have raised objections to Gillian Brock's arguments for global governance. (Brock, Gillian (2009). Global Justice: A Cosmopolitan Account. Oxford University Press.)

In the first case, I argued that her dependence on a Rawlsian "veil of ignorance" argument has problems. The fact that we would choose to do something in an imaginary situation governed by a number of hypothesis such as ignorance of our own conditions does not imply that we should choose to do the same thing in the real world where we are not ignorant. Morality was invented by people who were fully aware of who they were and what they were doing. These fictitious imaginary situations have no relevance to morality in the real world.

In the second case, Brock's lists of needs that this global governance would be involved in is either so limited that the possibilities range from almost nobody having their needs met (because there are so many things listed as "needed" to almost everybody does (because as long as you are alive and can make a decision your needs are met).

In spite of these failings, Brock then goes on and identifies a number of genuine real-world reasons for global governance. Please note that these reasons, unlike those given above, are reasons that real people who know their real situation have for finding some way to deal with these issues.

Of these, the most obvious is the fact that we have a number of global problems to solve. These include such things as ozone depletion, climate change. Ownership and use of resources in the oceans and deep sea. Species preservation. Corporations that can slip across borders with impunity. Global pandemics of disease. Global financial crisis. Wars and refugees. International security is an issue - terrorists and criminals crossing national boundaries. A failed state in one region can create terrorists and warlords in another. The powerful countries are subject to violence from poorer countries and poorer countries are subject to exploitation and abuse by powerful companies (or the corporations and other entities who live there). And moral concerns give the people in one country reason to be concerned with the immoral activities happening in another. The mere fact that people are being raped and murdered or children are being tortured, killed. or left without the basic necessities provides a reason for people in other countries to get involved.

We have two options. We can settle these differences with violence - go to battle until one country becomes dominant and can then impose its will on the other. Or we can agree to a common set of principles for a negotiated and peaceful settlement. However, negotiated and peaceful settlements require some form of enforcement. They work without enforcement where there is trust. Trust, in turn, requires a history of abiding by one's treaties and promises. However, as the United States has shown, it is all too easy to select a leader who cares nothing about prior agreements, and then trust goes out the window. As any parent tells their child, once trust is lost, it is extremely difficult to get it back again.

The other option consists in agreements with some form of enforcement - some way to help to ensure that each country lives up to its promises. It requires entities that can coordinate activities across borders to deal with issues that are bigger than nations or entities that live in multiple countries at once (like large corporations).

Unlike arguments grounded on Rawlsian veils of ignorance, this type of discussion involve real people who have real reasons to promote universally (through praise and condemnation, incentives and punishment) reasons for countries and people universally to . . . for example . . . refrain from breaking promises and refraining from harming the innocent (either through direct attack or by giving corporations within its boundaries permission to engage in harmful activity in exchange for payments to the national leaders).

Now we have reasons for real-world actions that does not involve being ignorant of one's reasons for entering into such a state.

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