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Volume 28 • Number 3

July 2014



Two Models of the Global Order

by Richard Child

Intergovernmental organizations such as the UN, the IMF, and the World Bank are global agents with the ability to affect millions of lives for better or worse. In light of this fact, there is some plausibility to the thought that theorists of global justice should focus their attention on what has been termed "institutional" or "mid-level" theorizing about the global order. On this view, the goal of normative political theory is to study how these important global organizations work, assess the ways in which they act and the rules they impose on other agents, consider alternative ways in which they could exercise their power, and ultimately produce directly action-guiding principles to prescribe their future behavior in the hope of justifying these institutions and bringing about an overall gain in justice. Crucially, according to many proponents of this view, this work can be carried out without asking unnecessarily deep and complex questions about the fundamental design of the global institutional structure. Such "non-institutional" or "foundational" theorizing is of dubious practical relevance and, in any case, is likely to be much more controversial than less abstract theorizing, and consequently much less likely to contribute to real change.

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ISSN: 2152-0542