The topic of global justice has in recent decades become an appropriately central concern in political philosophy. Yet, most of this work is characterised by a crippling failure to make the critical connections between theory and practice that are required if such investigations are to contribute meaningfully to the struggle for human freedom. I propose that we need a new paradigm for the theory of global justice, one that abandons the ahistorical, abstract approaches that are currently dominant. We need to change fundamentally the focus of this theoretical conversation so that we can begin to grasp the fabric of global justice, that is the history and structure of those hierarchical relations between the peoples of the world that have been imposed by power throughout the colonial and neo-colonial modern eras. We need to reconceive the notion of global justice as a project of substantive decolonization.
Professor Shane O’Neill is PVC, Executive Dean and Professor of Political Theory at Keele University. He has published extensively on a broad range of topics in social and political philosophy. He has investigated the demands of egalitarian justice and democratic legitimacy, both within the state and beyond it. He advocates interdisciplinary forms of critical theory that seek to articulate the demands for recognition of those who have experienced injustice and various forms of social exclusion.