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Keywords:

  • global justice;
  • natural resources;
  • global egalitarianism;
  • cosmopolitanism

Any adequate position on allocating rights over natural resources will recognise that as well as the general claims we have over them (simply as human beings), there are also often special claims, based on the ways in which we have improved them, perhaps, or become attached to specific resources. The question is how to integrate these general and special claims in a compelling account of resource justice – a challenge that some theories of global justice appear to neglect. Avery Kolers, in this journal, has recently presented a complex and in many ways persuasive account of resource justice which takes this challenge seriously. But this response suggests that his position actually places too much weight on special claims, in entirely removing questions about the distribution of some resources from the table once we have determined the existence of such claims. Using the example of fresh water, it shows how his position has unwelcome implications. Although a complex account of resource justice is desirable, Kolers' account does not yet quite deliver on that challenge.