That’s the subtitle of a new book edited by Thomas Pogge (on a theme that I tried to tackle a few years ago). Bookforum brought two good reviews to my attention. James Sterba of Notre Dame admires the book, but thinks the authors should be more radical:
[Many contributors] seem particularly concerned to empirically demonstrate that social institutions, particularly global ones, have the effect of depriving the poor of the resources they need for a decent life. Pogge, for example, frequently compares current practices to the historical examples of Stalin’s disastrous economic plan of 1930–33 . . . But why is it not enough just to point out that the rich are interfering with the poor by keeping them from using the surplus resources that the rich possess?
The poor clearly are coercively restricted from using the surplus of the rich to meet their own basic needs; and if the poor have no other way to meet those needs, why are these obvious social facts not enough to show that the rich are harming the poor by interfering with them? Suggesting that some complicated empirical argument is needed here, when in fact none is required, may weaken the strong case that exists for a right to freedom from poverty based on a negative right of noninterference. . . .
I would think that recognizing a right to freedom from poverty applicable both to existing and future people requires us to use up no more resources than are necessary for meeting our own basic needs here and now, securing for ourselves a decent life but no more. To use up more resources than this, it would seem, would be to deprive at least some future generations of the resources they would require to meet their own basic needs.
Here’s an excerpt from a review by Brian Harward: