Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Andrew Jason Cohen - Committee Chair

Second Advisor

A.I. Cohen - Committee Member

Third Advisor

Andrew Altman - Committee Member


In his landmark work World Poverty and Human Rights, Thomas Pogge offers a novel approach to understanding the nature and extent of the obligations that citizens of wealthy states owe to their less fortunate counterparts in poor states. Pogge argues that the wealthy have weighty obligations to aid the global poor because the wealthy coercively impose institutions on the poor that leave their human rights, particularly their subsistence rights avoidably unfulfilled. Thus, Pogge claims that the wealthy states' obligations to the poor are ultimately generated by their negative duties, that is, their duties to refrain from harming. In this essay, I argue that Pogge cannot successfully appeal to negative duties in way that would appease his critics because his notion of a negative duty is seriously indeterminate, so much so as to compromise his ability to plausibly appeal to it.

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