Thomas Pogge

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Thomas Pogge
2014-01-08 Thomas Pogge 4805.JPG
Thomas Pogge (2014)
Born Thomas Winfried Menko Pogge
(1953-08-13) 13 August 1953 (age 61)
Nationality German
Alma mater Harvard University
Notable work(s) Realizing Rawls
Awards 2013 Gregory Kavka Prize in political philosophy[1]
Institutions Yale University
Main interests
John Rawls
Immanuel Kant
Website
thomaspogge.com

Thomas Winfried Menko Pogge (born 13 August 1953),[2] is a German philosopher and is the Director of the Global Justice Program and Leitner Professor of Philosophy and International Affairs at Yale University. In addition to his Yale appointment, he is the Research Director of the Centre for the Study of the Mind in Nature at the University of Oslo, a Professorial Research Fellow at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at Charles Sturt University and Professor of Political Philosophy at the University of Central Lancashire's Centre for Professional Ethics. Pogge is also an editor for social and political philosophy for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy[3] and a member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.[4][5]

Pogge received his Ph.D. from Harvard University with a dissertation supervised by John Rawls.[6] Since then he has published widely on Kant and in moral and political philosophy, including various books on John Rawls and global justice.

Major works[edit]

The Health Impact Fund: Making New Medicines Accessible for All (2008)[edit]

In this book, Thomas Pogge and Aidan Hollis argue in favour of establishing the Health Impact Fund (HIF). The HIF is a new proposal for stimulating research and development of life-saving pharmaceuticals that make substantial reductions in the global burden of disease.

The HIF will provide pharmaceutical companies with a new choice. Pharmaceutical companies can sell a new medicine in the usual manner at patent-protected high prices, or they can choose to register their new medicine with the HIF and sell it globally at the cost of production. If they choose to register their medicine with the HIF, the pharmaceutical company will receive additional payments from the fund that are proportionate to health improvements that are brought about by the registered medicines. The more effective the medicine is in improving global health, the bigger the payout. Because malaria kills millions, the firm that finds and develops a cure can expect a significant return.[7]

World Poverty and Human Rights (2002, 2008)[edit]

Pogge’s World Poverty and Human Rights is one of the most intellectually rigorous and empirically well-informed works of political philosophy yet written on world poverty.[8] It includes a number of original and substantial theses, the most notable being that people in wealthy Western liberal democracies (such as Western Europeans) are currently harming the world’s poor (like those in sub-Saharan Africa). In particular, without denying that much blame should be directed at domestic kleptocrats, Pogge urges us to recognize the ways in which international institutions facilitate and exacerbate the corruption perpetuated by national institutions. Pogge is especially critical of the “resource” and “borrowing” privileges,[9] which allow illegitimate political leaders to sell natural resources and to borrow money in the name of the country and its people. In Pogge’s analysis, these resource and borrowing privileges that international society extends to oppressive rulers of impoverished states play a crucial causal role in perpetuating absolute poverty. What is more, Pogge maintains that these privileges are no accident; they persist because they are in the interest of the wealthy states. The resource privilege helps guarantee a reliable supply of raw materials for the goods enjoyed by the members of wealthy states, and the borrowing privilege allows the financial institutions of wealthy states to issue lucrative loans. It may seem that such loans are good for developing states too, but Pogge argues that, in practice, they typically work quite to the contrary:

Local elites can afford to be oppressive and corrupt, because, with foreign loans and military aid, they can stay in power even without popular support. And they are often so oppressive and corrupt, because it is, in light of the prevailing extreme international inequalities, far more lucrative for them to cater to the interests of foreign governments and firms than to those of their impoverished compatriots.[10]

Thus, without denying that local leaders are often guilty of the most egregious crimes, Pogge’s analysis of the international institutions shows how the world’s poor are not merely suffering because we are doing too little to help; they are being actively and wrongly harmed by a system of global political and economic arrangements that is disproportionately shaped by and for wealthy Western societies.

If Pogge is correct, then the typical contemporary American is morally tantamount to an average law-abiding white person in the antebellum South who, while she may not have personally owned slaves, indirectly contributed to the upholding of slavery and profited from the cheap goods made available by this horribly unjust institution. What is more, if Pogge is right about the need to focus on pernicious institutions rather than (solely) our individual interactions, then it is hard not to feel impotent. After all, even if you and I worked around the clock, what chance is there that either of us could discernibly improve the existing geo-political landscape? It is important to appreciate, though, that Pogge’s institutional approach is not nearly as demanding as one might initially think. It does not require us to disassociate from all institutions that harm others, nor does it even require us to fix the harmful institutions to which we contribute. More minimally, it requires only that so long as we contribute to the design or imposition of unjust institutions, we compensate for our fair share of the avoidable deprivations they produce and make reasonable efforts toward institutional reform. Meeting the first of these requirements allows an average citizen in Nazi Germany,[11] who chose to remain there and contribute to the state’s economy, to escape wrongdoing by doing enough toward protecting the victims of the Nazi state (Oscar Schindler). In contrast to the Nazi case, where few even among the privileged elite had any plausible opportunities to support institutional reform, such opportunities abound for the affluent participants in today’s world economy, or so Pogge believes.

Realizing Rawls (1989)[edit]

In Realizing Rawls, Pogge defends, criticizes and extends John Rawls’s A Theory of Justice. Pogge insists that Rawls has been importantly misunderstood by his most influential critics, including the libertarian Robert Nozick and the communitarian Michael Sandel. According to Pogge, Rawls’ reluctance to disagree sharply with his critics has helped these (mis)understandings to become widespread, and has also induced Rawls in his more recent work to dilute the moral statement of his central Rawlsian ideas: first, that moral deliberation must begin from reflection upon the justice of our basic social institutions; and second, that the justice of an institutional scheme is to be assessed by how well its least advantaged participants fare. From these starting points, Pogge develops his own specification of Rawls’s principles of justice, discussing the relative importance of different fundamental rights and liberties, the ideal constitution of the political process, and the just organization of educational, health-care, and economic institutions. In the last part of the book, Pogge argues for extending the Rawlsian criterion of justice to the international arena, and identifies those features of the present global order that this criterion would single out as principal targets for institutional reform.

Other projects[edit]

Giving What We Can[edit]

Giving What We Can is an international society for the promotion of poverty relief, in particular in the developing world. The aims of the organisation are to encourage people to commit to long-term donation to those charities that provide the most cost-effective poverty relief. Giving What We Can conducts extensive research into the relative effectiveness of charities, and provides a list of those it most highly recommends. Currently this includes charities that work to treat neglected diseases (NTDs), malaria and micronutrient deficiency.

Incentives for Global Health (IGH)[edit]

IGH is a non-profit organization dedicated to developing market-based, systemic solutions to health challenges faced by the world’s poor. Its flagship proposal is the Health Impact Fund.

Academics Stand Against Poverty (ASAP)[edit]

Thomas Pogge speaking in Munich about Academics Stand Against Poverty (2014)

Academics Stand Against Poverty is an organization meant to help academics have a greater impact on world poverty. “The group lies between academia and activism. Like the latter, it aims primarily at persuading and motivating people to change their behavior. Like the former, it does so by moral and political argument, using the distinctive skills of academics.” [12]

This project is still in its beginning stages. It has three central aims:

  1. To disseminate accessible versions of arguments for taking action against world poverty to the public; [13]
  2. To disseminate responses to standard objections to such arguments to the public;
  3. To distribute discussion of what individuals and states in developing countries should do in response to world poverty to the public.

Poverty and gender equality measurement[edit]

Various indices - the United Nations Development Programme's Human and Gender‐Related Development Indices, and the World Bank’s Poverty Index - are used to track poverty, development, and gender equity at the population level. Pogge argues that these prominent indices are deeply flawed and therefore distort our moral judgments and misguide resource allocations by governments, international agencies, and non-governmental organizations.[14]

“This project will work toward new indices ‘of poverty and of gender equity’ applicable both at the national and supranational levels, and to smaller groups affected by specific policies and programs. Both indices will draw on a holistic measure of individual (dis)advantage that reflects all relevant aspects of a person’s situation.” [15]

Pogge has pursued similar themes in his recent book Politics as Usual: What Lies Behind the Pro-Poor Rhetoric (Cambridge: Polity Press).

Illicit financial flows[edit]

This project focuses on the illicit financial flows out of developing countries, the lack of transparency in the global financial system, and the impact these conditions have on human rights. The driving idea behind this project is that “‘human rights and international financial integrity are intimately linked’” and that poverty increases when money flows out of nations illicitly instead of being invested in the basic needs of people in their countries.” [16]

Forced Labor and Human Trafficking[edit]

The Forced Labor and Human Trafficking project aims “to bring public, official, and mainstream media attention to the global crisis of human trafficking and labor abuse towards children and adults.” The non-profit organization Art Works Projects is a contributor to this project.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gregory Kavka/UC Irvine Prize in Political Philosophy
  2. ^ "Pogge, Thomas, 1953-". Library of Congress. Retrieved 10 August 2014. (Thomas Pogge) data view (b. Aug. 13, 1953) 
  3. ^ SEP: Subject Editors
  4. ^ "Gruppe 3: Idéfag" (in Norwegian). Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. Retrieved 16 January 2011. 
  5. ^ Yale profile
  6. ^ When the global economic order favors the rich
  7. ^ CAN THE PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY CURE THE POOR?
  8. ^ A Cosmopolitan's Perspectives on Global Governance for Health: An Informal Conversation with Professor Thomas Pogge
  9. ^ Thomas Pogge, World Poverty and Human Rights, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Polity Press 2008), pp. 29-30.
  10. ^ Ibid., p. 295, n. 238
  11. ^ Ibid.,pp. 141-142
  12. ^ “Global Justice Program: Academics Stand Against Poverty,”
  13. ^ CROP - Academics Stand Against Poverty (ASAP)
  14. ^ Thomas Pogge, “How Not to Count the Poor” (Sanjay Reddy and Thomas Pogge), in Sudhir Anand, Paul Segal and Joseph Stiglitz, eds.: Debates in the Measurement of Global Poverty (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010)
  15. ^ Global Justice Program: Poverty and Gender Equity Measurement, http://www.yale.edu/macmillan/globaljustice/FemPov.html
  16. ^ Raymond Baker, Thomas Pogge, and Arvind Ganesan, "Financial Integrity Meets Human Rights" at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/raymond-baker/financial-integrity-meets_b_414740.html

Bibliography[edit]

  • Thomas Pogge, Politics as Usual: What Lies behind the Pro-Poor Rhetoric (Cambridge: Polity Press 2010).
  • Thomas Pogge, The Health Impact Fund: Making New Medicines Accessible for All, authored with Aidan Hollis (Incentives for Global Health, 2008), http://www.healthimpactfund.org.
  • Thomas Pogge, World Poverty and Human Rights: Cosmopolitan Responsibilities and Reforms, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Polity Press 2008).
  • Thomas Pogge, Realizing Rawls (Ithaca: Cornell University Press 1989).
  • Ed. Thomas Pogge, Freedom from Poverty as a Human Right (Who owes what to the very poor?) (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2007)

Video[edit]

'Globalization, Rights and Poverty,' Considered at Center for the Study of Human Rights 25th Anniversary Conference”, October 23, 2003 at http://www.columbia.edu/cu/news/vforum/03/globalization_rights_poverty/thomasPogge.ram

UNU Lecture Series ‘Emerging Thinking on Global Issues (II)’: Human Rights: The Second 60 Years, and interview, December 11, 2008, at http://www.ony.unu.edu/events-forums/new/ET/2008/unu-lecture-series-emerging-th.php.

RSA Lecture 'Ending Poverty', published December 18, 2012 at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2w6BqUBghg

Audio[edit]

KUOW 94.9 FM Weekday: Thomas Pogge on Poverty and Global Justice, April 17, 2009, at http://www.kuow.org/program.php?id=17344

External links[edit]