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Moral Philosophy and Politics

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A Case of Non-Ideal Guidance: Tackling Tax Competition

Alexandre Gajevic Sayegh
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  • Department of Philosophy, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • Yale University, Global Justice Program, MacMillan Center, New Haven, CT, USA
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Published Online: 2016-10-04 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/mopp-2016-0012


In the global justice literature, growing attention has been given to problems particular to a globalised economy such as tax competition. Political philosophers have started to reflect on how these problems intersect with theories of global justice. This paper explores the idea according to which action-guiding principles of justice can only be formulated at such intersections. This is the starting point from which I develop a ‘non-ideal theory’ of global justice. The methodology of this theory posits that principles of justice are formulated according to the practice they are intended to regulate. Individual practices provide insights about the formulation of principles, for the non-ideal circumstances that prevent the realisation of justice are only revealed through the interpretation of each practice. With regard to the content of principles, I reject the notion that non-ideal theory is applied ideal theory. I offer instead an overview of the main features of a conception of justice for a non-ideal world based on the ideas of compliance, fact-sensitivity, feasibility and path-dependence. The contribution of this paper is twofold: to provide the conceptual framework for an action-guiding non-ideal theory of global justice and to show why this theory is well-suited to address problems of a globalised economy, such as tax competition.

Keywords: non-ideal theory; action guidance; non-compliance; global justice; tax competition


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About the article

Published Online: 2016-10-04

Published in Print: 2017-06-27

Citation Information: Moral Philosophy and Politics, Volume 4, Issue 1, Pages 141–171, ISSN (Online) 2194-5624, ISSN (Print) 2194-5616, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/mopp-2016-0012.

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