Thomas Pogge

Last updated
Thomas Pogge
2014-01-08 Thomas Pogge 4805.JPG
Pogge in 2014
Thomas Winfried Menko Pogge

(1953-08-13) 13 August 1953 (age 70)
Alma mater Harvard University
Notable workRealizing Rawls
Awards2013 Gregory Kavka Prize in political philosophy [1]
Era Contemporary philosophy
Region Western philosophy
School Analytic
Institutions Yale University
Columbia University
Doctoral advisor John Rawls
Main interests
Political philosophy

Thomas Winfried Menko Pogge ( /ˈpɒɡi/ ; born 13 August 1953) [2] is a German philosopher and is the Director of the Global Justice Program and Leitner Professor of Philosophy and International Affairs at Yale University, United States. In addition to his Yale appointment, he is the Research Director of the Centre for the Study of the Mind in Nature at the University of Oslo, Norway, a Professorial Research Fellow at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at Charles Sturt University, Australia, and Professor of Political Philosophy at the University of Central Lancashire's Centre for Professional Ethics, England. Pogge is also an editor for social and political philosophy for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy [3] and a member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. [4] [5]


Early life

Pogge received his PhD from Harvard University with a dissertation supervised by John Rawls. [6] Since then, he has published widely on Immanuel Kant and in moral and political philosophy, including various books on Rawls and global justice.

Major works

The Health Impact Fund: Making New Medicines Accessible for All (2008)

In this book, Thomas Pogge and Aidan Hollis argue in favour of establishing the Health Impact Fund (HIF). The HIF is a new proposal for stimulating research and development of life-saving pharmaceuticals that make substantial reductions in the global burden of disease.

The HIF will provide pharmaceutical companies with a new choice. Pharmaceutical companies can sell a new medicine in the usual manner at patent-protected high prices, or they can choose to register their new medicine with the HIF and sell it globally at the cost of production. If they choose to register their medicine with the HIF, the pharmaceutical company will receive additional payments from the fund that are proportionate to health improvements that are brought about by the registered medicines. The more effective the medicine is in improving global health, the bigger the payout. Because malaria kills millions, the firm that finds and develops a cure can expect a significant return. [7]

World Poverty and Human Rights (2002, 2008)

Pogge's World Poverty and Human Rights (2002) includes a number of original and substantial theses, the most notable being that people in wealthy Western liberal democracies (such as Western Europeans) are currently harming the world's poor (like those in sub-Saharan Africa). In particular, without denying that much blame should be directed at domestic kleptocrats, Pogge urges us to recognize the ways in which international institutions facilitate and exacerbate the corruption perpetuated by national institutions. Pogge is especially critical of the “resource” and “borrowing” privileges, [8] which allow illegitimate political leaders to sell natural resources and to borrow money in the name of the country and its people. In Pogge's analysis, these resource and borrowing privileges that international society extends to oppressive rulers of impoverished states play a crucial causal role in perpetuating absolute poverty. What is more, Pogge maintains that these privileges are no accident; they persist because they are in the interest of the wealthy states. The resource privilege helps guarantee a reliable supply of raw materials for the goods enjoyed by the members of wealthy states, and the borrowing privilege allows the financial institutions of wealthy states to issue lucrative loans. It may seem that such loans are good for developing states too, but Pogge argues that, in practice, they typically work quite to the contrary:

"Local elites can afford to be oppressive and corrupt, because, with foreign loans and military aid, they can stay in power even without popular support. And they are often so oppressive and corrupt, because it is, in light of the prevailing extreme international inequalities, far more lucrative for them to cater to the interests of foreign governments and firms than to those of their impoverished compatriots." [9]

Realizing Rawls (1989)

In Realizing Rawls, Pogge defends, criticizes and extends John Rawls's A Theory of Justice (1971). Pogge insists that Rawls has been importantly misunderstood by his most influential critics, including the libertarian Robert Nozick and the communitarian Michael Sandel. According to Pogge, Rawls’ reluctance to disagree sharply with his critics has helped these (mis)understandings to become widespread, and has also induced Rawls in his more recent work to dilute the moral statement of his central Rawlsian ideas: first, that moral deliberation must begin from reflection upon the justice of our basic social institutions; and second, that the justice of an institutional scheme is to be assessed by how well its least advantaged participants fare. From these starting points, Pogge develops his own specification of Rawls's principles of justice, discussing the relative importance of different fundamental rights and liberties, the ideal constitution of the political process, and the just organization of educational, health-care, and economic institutions. In the last part of the book, Pogge argues for extending the Rawlsian criterion of justice to the international arena, and identifies those features of the present global order that this criterion would single out as principal targets for institutional reform.

Other projects

Giving What We Can

Pogge deeply influenced Toby Ord in founding Giving What We Can, [10] an effective altruism organization whose members pledge to give at least 10% of their income to effective charities. The aim of the organization is to encourage people to commit to long-term donations to those charities that provide the most cost-effective good.

In addition, he became a member of the organization at its beginnings in 2009. [11]

Incentives for Global Health (IGH)

IGH is a non-profit organization dedicated to developing market-based, systemic solutions to health challenges faced by the world's poor. Its flagship proposal is the Health Impact Fund.

Academics Stand Against Poverty (ASAP)

Thomas Pogge speaking in Munich about Academics Stand Against Poverty (2014) 2014-01-08 Thomas Pogge 4737-cropped.JPG
Thomas Pogge speaking in Munich about Academics Stand Against Poverty (2014)

Academics Stand Against Poverty is an organization meant to help academics have a greater impact on world poverty. “The group lies between academia and activism. Like the latter, it aims primarily at persuading and motivating people to change their behavior. Like the former, it does so by moral and political argument, using the distinctive skills of academics.” [5]

This project is still in its beginning stages. It has three central aims:

  1. To disseminate accessible versions of arguments for taking action against world poverty to the public; [12]
  2. To disseminate responses to standard objections to such arguments to the public;
  3. To distribute discussion of what individuals and states in developing countries should do in response to world poverty to the public.

Poverty and gender equality measurement

Various indices - the United Nations Development Programme's Human and Gender‐Related Development Indices, and the World Bank’s Poverty Index - are used to track poverty, development, and gender equity at the population level. Pogge argues that these prominent indices are deeply flawed and therefore distort our moral judgments and misguide resource allocations by governments, international agencies, and non-governmental organizations. [13]

“This project will work toward new indices ‘of poverty and of gender equity’ applicable both at the national and supranational levels, and to smaller groups affected by specific policies and programs. Both indices will draw on a holistic measure of individual (dis)advantage that reflects all relevant aspects of a person's situation.” [14]

Pogge has pursued similar themes in Politics as Usual: What Lies Behind the Pro-Poor Rhetoric (2010). [15]

Illicit financial flows

This project focuses on the illicit financial flows out of developing countries, the lack of transparency in the global financial system, and the impact these conditions have on human rights. The driving idea behind this project is that “‘human rights and international financial integrity are intimately linked’” and that poverty increases when money flows out of nations illicitly instead of being invested in the basic needs of people in their countries.” [16]

Forced Labor and Human Trafficking

The Forced Labor and Human Trafficking project aims "to bring public, official, and mainstream media attention to the global crisis of human trafficking and labor abuse towards children and adults." The non-profit organization Art Works Projects is a contributor to this project.

Sexual harassment allegations

As a professor at Columbia University in the mid-1990s, Pogge had been disciplined by the school following allegations of sexual harassment. [17] He was later hired by Yale University. In 2010, Pogge was accused in a high-profile sexual harassment case of by a recent Yale graduate, Fernanda Lopez Aguilar. [18] Aguilar was represented by sexual harassment and discrimination lawyer Ann Olivarius. The university cleared Pogge of misconduct. Afterwards, 169 philosophy professors from several countries, including many in Pogge's own academic department at Yale, signed an open letter condemning his behavior and asking the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights to investigate Yale's response. [19] Some of the professors who signed the letter pledged to skip conferences in which Pogge is involved and to remove his work from their curricula. [17] [20] [21] [22] [23] Pogge wrote a detailed defense. [24] In 2019, the Yale Daily News reported a graduate student stating that Pogge continuing to teach undergraduates was a “source of difficulty” and that his presence was cause of "persistent unrest among the graduate students.” [25]


See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Justice</span> Concept of moral fairness and administration of the law

Justice, in its broadest sense, is the concept that individuals are to be treated in a manner that is equitable and fair.

Social justice is justice in relation to a fair balance in the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society where individuals' rights are recognized and protected. In Western and Asian cultures, the concept of social justice has often referred to the process of ensuring that individuals fulfill their societal roles and receive their due from society. In the current movements for social justice, the emphasis has been on the breaking of barriers for social mobility, the creation of safety nets, and economic justice. Social justice assigns rights and duties in the institutions of society, which enables people to receive the basic benefits and burdens of cooperation. The relevant institutions often include taxation, social insurance, public health, public school, public services, labor law and regulation of markets, to ensure distribution of wealth, and equal opportunity.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Rawls</span> American political philosopher (1921–2002)

John Bordley Rawls was an American moral, legal and political philosopher in the modern liberal tradition. Rawls has been described as one of the most influential political philosophers of the 20th century.

<i>A Theory of Justice</i> 1971 book by John Rawls

A Theory of Justice is a 1971 work of political philosophy and ethics by the philosopher John Rawls (1921–2002) in which the author attempts to provide a moral theory alternative to utilitarianism and that addresses the problem of distributive justice . The theory uses an updated form of Kantian philosophy and a variant form of conventional social contract theory. Rawls's theory of justice is fully a political theory of justice as opposed to other forms of justice discussed in other disciplines and contexts.

"Justice as Fairness: Political not Metaphysical" is an essay by John Rawls, published in 1985. In it he describes his conception of justice. It comprises two main principles of liberty and equality; the second is subdivided into fair equality of opportunity and the difference principle.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Paternalism</span> Sociological behaviour

Paternalism is action that limits a person's or group's liberty or autonomy and is intended to promote their own good. Paternalism can also imply that the behavior is against or regardless of the will of a person, or also that the behavior expresses an attitude of superiority. Paternalism, paternalistic and paternalist have all been used as a pejorative for example in the context of societal and/or political realms and references.

Oppression is malicious or unjust treatment of, or exercise of power over, a group of individuals, often in the form of governmental authority or cultural opprobrium. It is related to regimentation, class, society, and punishment. Oppression may be overt or covert, depending on how it is practiced. Oppression refers to discrimination when the injustice does not target and may not directly afflict everyone in society but instead targets or disproportionately impacts specific groups of people.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Global justice</span> Issue in political philosophy

Global justice is an issue in political philosophy arising from the concern about unfairness. It is sometimes understood as a form of internationalism.

Desert in philosophy is the condition of being deserving of something, whether good or bad. It is sometimes called moral desert to clarify the intended usage and distinguish it from the dry desert biome. It is a concept often associated with justice: that good deeds should be rewarded and evil deeds punished.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to ethics.

Charles R. Beitz is an American political theorist. He is Edwards S. Sanford Professor of Politics at Princeton University, where he has been director of the University Center for Human Values and director of the Program in Political Philosophy. His philosophical and teaching interests focus on global political theory, democratic theory, the theory of human rights and theories of property.

<i>World Poverty and Human Rights</i> Book by Thomas Pogge

World Poverty and Human Rights: Cosmopolitan Responsibilities and Reforms is a 2002 book by Thomas Pogge. In the book, Pogge explains that the poorest 44% of humankind have 1.3% of global income and their purchasing power per person per day is less than that of $2.15 in the US in 1993; 826 million of them do not have enough to eat. One-third of all human deaths are from poverty-related causes: 18 million annually, including 12 million children under five.

The Health Impact Fund is a proposed pay-for-performance mechanism that would provide a market-based solution to problems concerning the development and distribution of medicines globally. It would incentivize the research and development of new pharmaceutical products that make substantial reductions in the global burden of disease. The Health Impact Fund is the creation of a team of researchers led by the Yale philosopher Thomas Pogge and the University of Calgary economist Aidan Hollis, and is promoted by the non-profit organization Incentives for Global Health (IGH).

Veronique Zanetti is a German professor of Political Philosophy at Faculty of History, Philosophy, and Theology, Bielefeld University.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Global resources dividend</span>

The global resources dividend (GRD) is a method of tackling global poverty advanced by the philosopher Thomas Pogge. He presents it as an alternative to the current global economic order. Under the scheme, nations would pay a dividend (tax) on any resources that they use or sell, resulting in a sort of "tax on consumption" Pogge's scheme is motivated by the positive duty to alleviate poverty, but also on the negative responsibility of the rich not to use institutions that perpetuate economic inequality. Pogge estimates that a dividend of just 1% could raise $300 billion each year; this would equal $250 for each individual in the world's poorest quintile.

John Tasioulas is a Greek-Australian moral and legal philosopher. He is the inaugural Director of the Institute for Ethics in AI, and Professor of Ethics and Legal Philosophy, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Oxford. He holds dual Australian and British citizenship.

<i>Politics as Usual</i> (book)

Politics as Usual: What Lies Behind the Pro-Poor Rhetoric is a 2010 book by Thomas Pogge. The book is a discussion on issues of global significance and their relationship to poverty. Politics as Usual is based on previously compiled essays. Pogge's book present an alternate view than the one where "Education, health-care, technology, and political participation are becoming ever more universal, empowering human beings everywhere to enjoy security, economic sufficiency, equal citizenship, and a life in dignity." according to Crop. He presents one where Poverty and oppression persist on a massive scale, one where the affluent states and international organizations knowingly contribute and even benefit from these evils.

The International Resource Privilege is the power to transfer ownership or freely dispose of the natural resources of a country by the authority that countries give to the current leadership or government of that country. The resource privilege exists regardless of how the rulers came to power. While bribery is often illegal, the purchase of these resources by payment to the current government in control is legal. Corrupt leaders sell these resources to generate revenue which entrenches the corrupt government and incentivizing the seizure of power itself. This further handicaps the ability to achieve democracy along with hindering economic growth and the eradication of poverty.

<i>One World: The Ethics of Globalisation</i>

One World: The Ethics of Globalisation is a 2002 book about globalization by the philosopher Peter Singer. In the book, Singer applies moral philosophy to four issues: the impact of human activity on the atmosphere; international trade regulation ; the concept of national sovereignty; and the distribution of aid.

Nicole Hassoun is a professor of philosophy at Binghamton University and head of the Global Health Impact project, a research organization focused on promoting access to essential medicines. She is the author of Globalization and Global Justice: Shrinking Distance, Expanding Obligations and Global Health Impact: Extending Access on Essential Medicines for the Poor.


  1. "Gregory Kavka/UC Irvine Prize in Political Philosophy".
  2. "Pogge, Thomas, 1953-". Library of Congress. Retrieved 10 August 2014. (Thomas Pogge) data view (b. Aug. 13, 1953)
  3. "Editorial Board (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)".
  4. "Gruppe 3: Idéfag" (in Norwegian). Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters . Retrieved 16 January 2011.
  5. 1 2 "The MacMillan Center". The MacMillan Center.
  6. Maboloc, Christopher Ryan (October 16, 2014). "When the global economic order favors the rich".
  7. "Can the Pharmaceutical Industry Cure the Poor?". October 16, 2014.
  8. Thomas Pogge, World Poverty and Human Rights, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Polity Press 2008), pp. 29-30.
  9. World Poverty and Human Rights, 2nd ed. 2008, p. 295, n. 238
  10. Gill, Martha (8 January 2013). "The man who gives away a third of his income. Would you give up a luxury to save a life?". New Statesman .
  11. "Members".
  12. "Academics Stand Against Poverty (ASAP) - CROP".
  13. Thomas Pogge, “How Not to Count the Poor” (Sanjay Reddy and Thomas Pogge), in Sudhir Anand, Paul Segal and Joseph Stiglitz, eds.: Debates in the Measurement of Global Poverty (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010)
  14. Global Justice Program: Poverty and Gender Equity Measurement, Accessed July 28, 2016.
  15. Thomas Pogge, Politics as Usual: What Lies Behind the Pro-Poor Rhetoric (Cambridge, Polity Press, 2010) ISBN   9780745638935
  16. Raymond Baker, Thomas Pogge, and Arvind Ganesan, "Financial Integrity Meets Human Rights," Huffington Post , March 18, 2010.
  17. 1 2 Noah Remnick, "After a Professor Is Cleared of Sexual Harassment, Critics Fear 'Cultural Silence' at Yale, New York Times (July 8, 2016).
  18. Katie J.M. Baker, "The Famous Ethics Professor And The Women Who Accused Him," BuzzFeed News, 20 May 2016.
  19. "169 Philosophers Condemn One Of Their Own Accused Of Sexual Harassment," HuffPost, 20 June 2016.
  20. Fernanda Zamudio-Suaréz, Fellow Philosophers Criticize Yale Scholar for Alleged Sexual Harassment, The Chronicle of Higher Education , (June 20, 2016).
  21. Adrian Rodrigues, Monica Wang and Victor Wang, Philosophy community signs open letter in striking rebuke of Pogge, Yale Daily News (June 20, 2016).
  22. Tyler Kingkade, "Thomas Pogge Has ‘Done Damage’ To Yale Philosophy Department, Colleague Says," HuffPost, 28 June 2016.
  23. Stassa Edwards, "Hundreds of Professors Condemn Yale's Thomas Pogge After Sexual Assault Allegations," Jezebel, 20 June 2016.
  24. Response to the Allegations, Accessed July 22, 2016.
  25. Carly Wanna, "Three Disturbing Results," Yale Daily News, 20 September 2019.